December 19, 2012
Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.
What: Shares of nutrition supplement maker Nu Skin (NYSE: NUS ) sank 9% today on a tandem play with Herbalife (NYSE: HLF ) , whose shares fell 12% after activist investor Bill Ackman disclosed a short position in the stock.
So what: Ackman said he has been short Herbalife for seven to eight months, and went as far as to call the nutritional supplement company a pyramid scheme. This isn't the first time such an accusation has been levied at Herbalife. Well-known short-seller David Einhorn also raised similar questions on an earnings all earlier this year. CEO Michael Johnson defended Herbalife by calling Ackman's claims bogus. Some observers also pointed out that a large number of put options are set to expire on Friday, which helps explain why Ackman chose this moment to disclose his position. Ackman is expected to make a presentation on the matter at an investing conference tomorrow.
Now what: Nu Skin bears a number of similarities to Herbalife, including its line of products and multi-level marketing model, essentially a network of independent distributors who get a commission on their sales. Both companies are profitable, and their stocks are reasonably priced. Nu Skin has been around since 1984, and Herbalife since 1980 so the idea that these are fly by-night "pyramid schemes" seems mistaken. Look for movement tomorrow in either direction following Ackman's presentation.
Get your daily dose of news on Nu Skin and Herbalife. Click the link below to add them to your Watchlist.