What: Shares of Nu Skin Enterprises (NYSE:NUS) fell as much as 26.9% on Wednesday, dropping to levels not seen since the end of 2012. The maker and distributor of anti-aging products under the Nu Skin and Pharmanex brands pre-announced its third-quarter results, falling far short of every expectation.
So what: Nu Skin's third-quarter sales will land at roughly $572 million. Official guidance had pointed to $620 million, and analysts expected even more, setting their revenue targets at $623 million.
Full results will be published on Nov. 5, leaving some wiggle room in these early results. But there's no doubt that the company is running on fumes. Sales in the year-ago period stopped at $639 million, which means that Nu Skin's revenues will plunge approximately 10% lower year over year.
Now what: Management pointed out strong currency headwinds, arguing that third-quarter revenues would actually be comparable to the 2014 period on a constant-currency basis.
But that's not the whole story. Nu Skin CEO Truman Hunt also noted that a new line of cosmetic oils isn't selling as well as expected in China. Hunt blamed that shortfall on difficult economic conditions in China.
That's a true enough statement, but Hunt still isn't painting a complete picture. Keep in mind that the company has grown its Chinese army of network sales partners dramatically in recent quarters, but still failed to notch any sales gains in that crucial market.
Also, Nu Skin installed a new head of global sales at the start of September, which just happens to coincide with the company's increased struggles in China. Call it teething problems, call it a cold honeymoon, or whatever else you want, but new sales guru Ryan Napierski is definitely not hitting the ground running.
Napierski and Hunt had better come up with a better explanation for this shortfall in November, because the Chinese economy scapegoat just isn't cutting it. It's starting to look a lot like disappointing sales execution in Nu Skin's largest market.