* Forecasts 2014 earnings of $1.30-$1.60/shr vs est $2.78
* To finalize plans to "resize" in current quarter
* 4th-quarter profit drops 47 pct
By Aditi Shrivastava
Feb 13 Weight Watchers International Inc
, facing increasing competition from diet apps and
calorie-counting gadgets, forecast a full-year adjusted profit
far below estimates, sending its shares down as much as 20
percent after the bell.
Weight Watchers, which also announced plans to "resize,"
said it expected to earn $1.30-$1.60 per share in 2014 - well
below the average analyst forecast of $2.78, according to
Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
"The start of our year is proving to be every bit as
challenging as we thought, if not more so," Chief Executive Jim
Chambers said on a conference call with analysts on Thursday.
The company said it would finalize plans to reorganize its
business during the current quarter. The costs associated with
the plan are not included in the earnings forecast, it said.
Wedbush Securities analyst Kurt Frederick described the
outlook as "shockingly bad."
"(Membership) trends have been bad, trends are bad now.
Expenses are also not adjusted yet to reflect the declining
business," he said.
Weight Watchers said membership paid-weeks dropped 8.5
percent in the fourth quarter while the profit nearly halved, to
$30.8 million, or 54 cents per share, from $58 million, or $1.03
per share, a year earlier.
Revenue fell 11 percent to $366.1 million.
Shares of the company, which suspended its dividend in the
previous quarter, closed at $30.58 on the New York Stock
As of Wednesday's close, the stock was trading at a forward
price-to-earnings multiple of 10.78, compared with the peer
group average of 18.27. Weight Watchers rival Nutrisystem
was trading at a multiple of 20.94.
Founded in 1963 by Brooklyn, New York, homemaker Jean
Nidetch, Weight Watchers operates in about 30 countries. The
company also offers a line of diet foods.