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Jan 10 (Reuters) - Herbalife Ltd stepped up its defense against activist investor Bill Ackman on Thursday, stressing it was a legitimate company with a mission to improve nutrition and help public health.
At a meeting with investors in New York, officials of the nutritional supplement company described Herbalife as retail-oriented. Ackman has called the company an unsustainable "pyramid scheme" because distributors earn more than 10 times as much from recruitment as they do by selling company products.
But Herbalife executives said 31 percent of its U.S. orders in 2012 were shipped to customers who were not Herbalife distributors, and an outside researcher hired by the company said 92 percent of Herbalife's customer base was not part of the company's distributor base. (Additional reporting by Sam Forgione and Adam Kerlin in New York; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)