Weight Watchers shares slide after disappointing 2015 forecast; plans $100M in cost cuts

NEW YORK (AP) — Weight Watchers is planning to cut $100 million in expenses and posted an outlook that fell far below Wall Street's expectations.

The weight-loss program operator expects profit of 40 cents to 70 cents per share in 2015. But that doesn't include the costs of a plan to "resize" the company. Analysts forecast earnings of $1.37 per share for the year, according to FactSet.

Weight Watchers, founded in the 1960s, is facing stiff competition from a slew of new diet and fitness apps. It's also hurting from a general trend away from calorie counting toward more general "wellness" programs.

On a conference call with analysts, CEO James Chambers said the company's execution in 2015 "was not what we had hoped for, and I'm disappointed to say that we are not yet where we expected to be, and that our turnaround will take longer than we had anticipated." He said the company was taking "aggressive steps" to change its marketing and to cut costs.

Weight Watchers International Inc. on Thursday reported a fourth-quarter loss of $16.1 million, after reporting a $30.8 million profit in the same period a year earlier.

On a per-share basis, the New York-based company said it had a loss of 28 cents. Adjusted for asset impairment costs and restructuring costs, Weight Watchers said it earned 7 cents per share. Still, analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research expected profit of 8 cents per share.

Revenue fell 10 percent to $327.8 million. Analysts polled by FactSet predicted $332.7 million.

The company's stock fell $2.76, or 16 percent, to $14.80 in after-hours trading. As of Thursday's close, Weight Watchers shares had dropped 29 percent in 2015 and 19 percent in the last 12 months.


Elements of this story were generated by Automated Insights (http://automatedinsights.com/ap) using data from Zacks Investment Research. Access a Zacks stock report on WTW at http://www.zacks.com/ap/WTW


Keywords: Weight Watchers International, Earnings Report