Herbalife Ltd., today reported fourth quarter 2008 net sales of $512.9 million, a decrease of 11.3 percent compared to the same period of 2007. Net sales performance in the quarter was negatively impacted by unprecedented currency fluctuations that reduced net sales by 856 basis points resulting in local currency year-over-year sales decline of 2.7 percent. For the quarter ended December 31, 2008, the company reported net income of $33.7 million, or $0.53 per diluted share, compared to $53.8 million, or $0.77 per diluted share in the fourth quarter of 2007, reflecting less contribution margin due to net sales declines, higher selling, general and administration expenses, partially offset by a lower effective tax rate, and accretion from our share repurchase program. Excluding the impact from adjusting items in both periods (1), adjusted net income was $43.4 million, or $0.69 in adjusted diluted earnings per share, reflecting a decrease of 21.3 percent and 12.7 percent, respectively, compared to 2007.
For the year ended December 31, 2008, the company reported record net sales of $2.4 billion, an increase of 9.9 percent compared to the same period of 2007. For the year ended December 31, 2008, the company reported record net income of $221.2 million, or $3.36 per diluted share, compared to $191.5 million, or $2.63 per diluted share in 2007. Excluding the impact from adjusting items in both periods (1), adjusted net income was $232.1 million, or $3.53 in adjusted diluted earnings per share, an increase of 18.0 percent and 30.3 percent, respectively, compared to 2007.
"While 2008 was a record year for many of our financial metrics including net sales, operating profit and earnings per share, due to a combination of factors including the weakening global economy, volatile foreign currency markets and softer volume trends in certain key markets during the fourth quarter, we ended the year on a soft note. While we remain very confident in the long term prospects for our company, we are not satisfied with the recent volume trends and corresponding financial performance," said Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Michael O. Johnson. "In December, we announced a restructuring program that we believe will help improve alignment with, and service to, our distributors, as well as reduce workload in the organization and right-size our cost structure. Our business has the potential to thrive during economic downturns because we offer an opportunity for part-time or full-time income along with an attractively priced product. In addition, our products offer a healthy low-calorie meal along with nutritional supplements and weight-management products in the midst of a global obesity epidemic. Our message to distributors is straightforward; there has never been a better time to introduce someone to Herbalife."
Net sales performance in the fourth quarter was partly attributable to declines in the company's top 10 markets, which were collectively down 8.1 percent versus the same period in the prior year. However excluding the unfavorable currency impact during the quarter, net sales performance for the top 10 markets was flat. In local currency, four of these top markets produced double-digit net sales gains including China, up 48.6 percent; Brazil, up 15.0 percent; Korea, up 33.7 percent; and Taiwan, up 13.4 percent. The United States, the company's top market, posted flat sales growth in the quarter.
During the fourth quarter 2008 we added 45,657 new Sales Leaders (2), which is 19.5 percent lower than the same period in the prior year. However, total Sales Leaders (2) increased 6.6 percent to 505,094 which reflects stronger recruiting earlier in the fiscal year. During the fourth quarter 2008, the company's President's Team membership increased 10.3 percent to 1,184 members versus the fourth quarter of 2007 and our prestigious Chairman's Club membership increased 12.5 percent to 36 members, versus the fourth quarter of 2007. The company also recognized the achievement of its first Brand Ambassador in China, the most senior level in that market.
The company produced cash flow from operations of $273.0 million for the full year 2008, and invested $106.8 million in capital expenditures, primarily in its global roll-out of Oracle along with additional technology investments to support improvements in distributor services as well as facility upgrades and expansions. In addition, the company repurchased 2.4 million shares during the fourth quarter of 2008. From the inception of the stock repurchase program in April 2007, the company has repurchased 13.7 million shares at an aggregate cost of $502.8 million, representing approximately 18 percent of the fully diluted share base since the initial authorization.
(1) See Schedule D - "Reconciliation of Non-GAAP Financial Measures" for more detail
(2) See Schedule titled "New Sales Leaders by Region" and "Total Sales Leaders by Region" for more detail
During the fourth quarter the company opened four new markets - Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala, and Ecuador. Honduras, Nicaragua, and Guatemala are part of the company's Mexico and Central America region while Ecuador is part of the South America region.
In addition, the company hosted one Extravaganza during the fourth quarter, in Los Angeles, California, which was attended by over 13,000 distributors. To keep our U.S. distributors engaged post-Extravaganza and in the midst of the economic slowdown, the company hosted a "Doctor's Tour" featuring Dr. Luigi Gratton who traveled to 11 cities and met with close to 10,000 distributors. In addition, during January, the company hosted a "Why Herbalife, Why Now" tour featuring our chairman and CEO who traveled to seven cities and met with over 13,000 distributors. In addition our regional management team and distributor leaders have met with thousands more distributors and potential distributors throughout our Europe, Middle East and Africa, Mexico and Central America, South America and Asia Pacific regions. We have also hosted three Extravaganzas so far during the first quarter of 2009 with over 18,000 distributors in attendance.
"Our company is well positioned for continued success during these uncertain times. We have a financially strong company, a pristine balance sheet, a global brand, broad geographic diversification and 29 years of success," concluded Johnson.
The Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region reported net sales of $117.4 million in the fourth quarter of 2008, down 18.9 percent versus the same period of 2007. Unfavorable currency fluctuations negatively impacted EMEA's net sales results by 10.0 percentage points; therefore net sales in local currency decreased 8.9 percent. Top markets within the region that reported year-over-year net sales declines during the fourth quarter of 2008 included Italy, down 6.7 percent; France, down 14.5 percent; Spain, down 48.2 percent; Netherlands, down 6.0 percent; and Germany, down 33.0 percent. As a result of the unfavorable currency fluctuations, Russia was the region's only market that reported double-digit net sales growth during the fourth quarter of 2008, up 17.1 percent as compared to the fourth quarter of 2007. New Sales Leaders in the region of 6,025, during the quarter ended December 31, 2008, decreased 21.9 percent versus the same period last year. Total Sales Leaders in the region, as of December 31, 2008, decreased 10.6 percent to 80,279 versus December 31, 2007.
The North America region reported net sales of $109.3 million in the fourth quarter of 2008, essentially flat versus the same period of 2007. Unfavorable foreign currency fluctuations negatively impacted the region's net sales growth by 0.7 percentage points; therefore net sales in local currency increased 0.4 percent. New Sales Leaders in the region of 9,655, during the quarter ended December 31, 2008, decreased 10.4 percent versus the same period last year. Total Sales Leaders in the region, as of December 31, 2008, increased 10.1 percent to 98,263 versus December 31, 2007.
The Asia Pacific region, which now excludes China, reported net sales of $97.0 million in the fourth quarter of 2008, down 4.5 percent over the same period of 2007. Unfavorable currency fluctuations negatively impacted Asia Pacific's net sales growth by 13.3 percentage points; therefore net sales in local currency increased 8.7 percent. The decrease in this region is attributable to net sales declines in Japan, down 24.1 percent; Australia, down 43.4 percent; Thailand, down 26.5 percent; and Korea, down 8.8 percent, in each case as compared with the same period in 2007. These net sales declines were partially offset by gains in other markets including Taiwan, up 11.7 percent; and Malaysia, up 32.4 percent, in each case as compared with the same period in 2007. New Sales Leaders in the region of 10,229, during the quarter ended December 31, 2008, decreased 0.3 percent versus the same period last year. Total Sales Leaders as of December 31, 2008 increased 1.5 percent to 90,327 versus December 31, 2007.
The South America region reported net sales of $78.8 million in the fourth quarter of 2008, down 20.7 percent versus the same period of 2007. Unfavorable currency fluctuations negatively impacted South America's net sales growth by 10.9 percentage points; therefore net sales in local currency decreased 9.8 percent. The decrease in net sales for the region was attributable to net sales declines in all markets except Colombia, which increased 47.6 percent versus the same period last year. In Brazil, the region's largest market, net sales decreased 9.9 percent versus fourth quarter 2007, but were negatively impacted 25.0 percentage points due to the unfavorable fluctuation in the Brazilian Real. Excluding this unfavorable currency fluctuation, net sales in Brazil increased 15.1 percent during the quarter. We believe the continued positive growth, excluding currency fluctuations, reflect a turnaround for Brazil and provide validation of transforming a market by using the daily consumption model. New Sales Leaders in the region of 8,247, during the quarter ended December 31, 2008, were 42.4 percent lower than the same period last year. Total Sales Leaders in the region, as of December 31, 2008, increased 13.0 percent to 102,901 versus December 31, 2007.
The Mexico and Central America region reported net sales of $69.9 million in the fourth quarter of 2008, down 28.5 percent versus the same period of 2007. Unfavorable currency fluctuations negatively impacted Mexico and Central America's net sales results by 13.4 percentage points; therefore net sales in local currency decreased 15.1 percent. Mexico, the largest market in the region, had a sales decrease of 31.0 percent as compared with the same period in 2007. Excluding currency fluctuations, net sales for Mexico decreased 17.4 percent.
During the third quarter of 2008 the company began collecting a Value Added Tax (VAT) in Mexico that has negatively impacted our financial results. Distributors in Mexico previously paid zero percent VAT on their purchases for most of our products. This effective price increase impacted approximately 58 percent of our volume in the Mexican market adversely affecting sales in Nutrition Clubs, which are retail price-sensitive, and as a result has caused volumes to decline from pre-VAT levels. We are in the process of challenging this assessment on several fronts, however while the products continue to be subject to this VAT, we expect year-over-year volume growth to be constrained.
New Sales Leaders in the Mexico and Central America region of 4,739, during the quarter ended December 31, 2008, were 45.3 percent lower than the same period last year. Total Sales Leaders in the region, as of December 31, 2008, decreased 8.0 percent to 85,088 versus December 31, 2007.
China reported net sales of $40.5 million in the fourth quarter of 2008, up 61.4 percent over the same period of 2007. Favorable foreign currency fluctuations positively impacted China's net sales growth by 12.7 percentage points; therefore net sales in local currency increased 48.6 percent. New Sales Employees in China of 6,762, during the quarter ended December 31, 2008, increased 34.9 percent versus the same period last year. Total Sales Employees, as of December 31, 2008, increased 116.4 percent to 48,236 versus December 31, 2007.
2008 Annual Supervisor Requalification
In February of each year, we remove from the rank of supervisor those individuals who did not satisfy the supervisor qualification requirements during the preceding 12 months. Distributors who meet the supervisor requirements at any time during the year are promoted to supervisor status at that time, including any supervisors who were removed, but who subsequently re-qualified. For the latest twelve month re-qualification period ending January 2009, approximately 40.3 percent of our supervisors re-qualified.
First Quarter 2009 and Full Year 2009 Guidance
The company's initial first quarter 2009 diluted earnings per share guidance range is $0.58 to $0.62 on volume point decline of five percent to seven percent and a net sales decline of 15 percent to 17 percent compared to the same period in 2008, respectively, and an effective tax rate range of 28 percent to 29 percent (3) (4). Our first quarter 2009 capital expenditures are expected to be in the range of $15 to $20 million.
Based on softer than anticipated fourth quarter business trends, coupled with a more cautious 2009 volume outlook, and current foreign currency rates, we are lowering our 2009 EPS guidance range by 10 cents. Our new 2009 diluted earnings per share guidance range is $2.90 to $3.10 on volume point growth of negative one percent to positive one percent and net sales decline of five percent to seven percent compared to 2008, respectively, and an effective tax rate range of 28.0 to 29.0 percent (3) (4). Full year 2009 capital expenditures are expected in the range of $55 million to $60 million.
(3) Excludes the impact of expenses expected to be incurred in 2009 relating to the company's December 2008 restructuring.
(4) Excludes the impact of an expected first quarter 2009 tax settlement with a foreign government.
Fourth Quarter Earnings Conference Call
Herbalife's senior management team will host an investor conference call to discuss its fourth quarter and full year 2008 financial results and provide an update on current business trends on Wednesday, February 25, 2009 at 8 a.m. PT (11 a.m. ET).
The dial-in number for this conference call for domestic callers is (866) 219-5268 and (703) 639-1120 for international callers. Live audio of the conference call will be simultaneously webcast in the Investor Relations section of the company's Web site at http://ir.herbalife.com.
An audio replay will be available following the completion of the conference call in MP3 format or by dialing (866) 837-8032 (domestic callers) and (703) 925-2474 (international callers) and entering access code 336024. The webcast of the teleconference will be archived and available on Herbalife's Web site.
About Herbalife Ltd.
Herbalife Ltd. is a global network marketing company that sells weight-management, nutrition, and personal care products intended to support a healthy lifestyle. Herbalife products are sold in 70 countries through a network of over 1.9 million independent distributors. The company supports the Herbalife Family Foundation and its Casa Herbalife program to bring good nutrition to children. Please visit Herbalife Investor Relations for additional financial information.
Disclosure Regarding Forward-Looking Statements
Except for historical information contained herein, the matters set forth in this press release are "forward-looking statements." All statements other than statements of historical fact are "forward-looking statements" for purposes of federal and state securities laws, including any projections of earnings, revenue or other financial items; any statements of the plans, strategies and objectives of management for future operations; any statements concerning proposed new services or developments; any statements regarding future economic conditions or performance; any statements of belief; and any statements of assumptions underlying any of the foregoing. Forward-looking statements may include the words, "may," "will," "estimate," "intend," "continue," "believe," "expect," or "anticipate" and any other similar words.
Although we believe that the expectations reflected in any of our forward-looking statements are reasonable, actual results could differ materially from those projected or assumed in any of our forward-looking statements. Our future financial condition and results of operations, as well as any forward-looking statements, are subject to change and to inherent risks and uncertainties, such as those disclosed or incorporated by reference in our filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Important factors that could cause our actual results, performance and achievements, or industry results to differ materially from estimates or projections contained in our forward-looking statements include, among others, the following:
-- our relationship with, and our ability to influence the actions of, our distributors;
-- adverse publicity associated with our products or network marketing organization;
-- uncertainties relating to interpretation and enforcement of recently enacted legislation in China governing direct selling;
-- our inability to obtain the necessary licenses to expand our direct selling business in China;
-- adverse changes in the Chinese economy, Chinese legal system or Chinese governmental policies;
-- improper action by our employees or international distributors in violation of applicable law;
-- changing consumer preferences and demands;
-- loss or departure of any member of our senior management team which could negatively impact our distributor relations and operating results;
-- the competitive nature of our business;
-- regulatory matters governing our products, including potential governmental or regulatory actions concerning the safety or efficacy of our products, and network marketing program including the direct selling market in which we operate;
-- risks associated with operating internationally, including foreign exchange and devaluation risks;
-- our dependence on increased penetration of existing markets;
-- contractual limitations on our ability to expand our business;
-- our reliance on our information technology infrastructure and outside manufacturers;
-- the sufficiency of trademarks and other intellectual property rights;
-- product concentration;
-- our reliance on our management team;
-- uncertainties relating to the application of transfer pricing, duties, value added taxes and similar tax regulations;
-- taxation relating to our distributors;
-- product liability claims;
-- any collateral impact resulting from the ongoing worldwide financial "crisis", including the availability of liquidity to us, our customers and our suppliers or the willingness of our customers to purchase products in a recessionary economic environment; and
-- whether we will purchase any of our shares in the open markets or otherwise.