I'm not sure if you know this, but people apparently need help losing weight all over our planet. Weight Watchers International
As we approach the holiday season and New Year's Day, many people will (once again) make resolutions to lose weight. Companies such as Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, and NutriSystem
The highlight in Weight Watchers' third-quarter results was attractive international membership trends, which offset a drop in attendance at its weight-loss centers in North America. With the majority of the company's customers sourced from North America, total attendance fell 2.8% in the quarter to 13.8 million people from 14.2 million people.
Excluding one-time items, Weight Watchers reported a 3.6% increase in revenues; the growth was also 3.8% ahead of analysts' expectations. Net income of $0.40 per share was in line with consensus estimates and above the $0.38 per share earned last year.
The company forecasts earnings for 2004 to be in the range of $1.69 to $1.71 per share, which is "in the ballpark" with the current analysts' estimate of $1.69 per share.
Weight Watchers is a tightly run and efficient organization with a lofty return on invested capital in excess of 37% over the past three years (recently highlighted by fellow Fool Chris Mallon). The company has leveraged its successful business model for many years, and demand for its service should remain strong for the foreseeable future. The shares have surged nearly 15% (to $36.50 per share) above its year-low in May of $31.83 per share; this gain reversed an intra-year drop of about 17% from a 52-week high of $43.95 per share.
While not a screaming buy, Weight Watchers shares could be considered a sound addition to any healthy portfolio.
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Fool contributor Phil Wohl spent more than 12 years on Wall Street and believes in the healthy mind-body connection. He does not own shares of any companies mentioned.