Back in July, when we took one quick look at the Herbalife Q2 results, we asked:
So, is Ackman going to have the last laugh? Or will Ichan end up LBOing the company - even if at a huge ultimate loss - just to spite the fellow hedge fund manager with whom he has supposedly kissed and made up? We will find out soon, because if Herbalife is to be LBOed, Icahn knows that the window in which bond investors are willing to take a gamble on this melting ice cube is closing fast.
We repeated the same rhetorical question last quarter, when nothing had changed, and in fact things got even worse.
Moments ago, Herbalife just reported Q4 and full year results, which from 30,000 feet (preferably literally) were ok, with the company smashing non-GAAP EPS expectations:
- HERBALIFE REPORTS 4Q ADJ. EPS $1.41 , EST. $1.22
That, however, was the only good news. Because the future is no longer so bright for the multi-level marketer, which however suddenly has huge problem not because it is an alleged Ponzi, but because it is being crushed by, drumroll, the strong dollar.
- HERBALIFE SEES 2015 EPS $4.10-$4.50, SAW $6.10-$6.40
- HERBALIFE SEES 1Q NET SALES DOWN 12.5% TO DOWN 15.5%
- HERBALIFE SEES 2015 ADJ. EPS $4.10 TO $4.50, EST. $5.08
- HERBALIFE SEES 2015 SALES DOWN 6%-9%
In other words, on both a GAAP and non-GAAP basis, the magic is over.
As for shareholders, especially those who are long and are loooking to take advantage of any short squeeze to get out of the stock, this may be the best time to quietly get out of dodge, because as we warned the ice cube has now almost melted. Why?
Because ponzi schemes, alleged or otherwise, can only exist as long as they generate more cash than they burn. Sadly for Herbalife, the tipping point beyond which every pyramid sheme implodes, has almost arrived. Just ask Bernie Madoff.
Presenting cash from operations.
Form which everything else follows: since the company no longer generates exccess cash to spend on buybacks, it had no choice but to halt said stock boosting buybacks.
And the worst news of all: unlike before, when it had a pristine balance sheet which it could lever up with billions in debt and use the proceeds to pay off activist investors like Icahn, Herbalife will now be fortunate if its creditors and lenders allow it to borrow even one more dollar because they, better than anyone, know that the game is almost over.