Shares of Herbalife Nutrition (HLF) are on the rise after Citi analyst Beth Kite upgraded the stock to Buy noting that a lot has happened in 2018, including capital allocation announcements, executive changes, and Bill Ackman having closed out his well-publicized short position. The analyst also told investors that she sees upside ahead as Herbalife executes a tender offer and refinances its debt to reinvest in the business and repurchase shares in 2019.
BUY HERBALIFE: In a research note to investors, Citi’s Kite upgraded Herbalife to Buy from Neutral and raised her price target on the shares to $114 from $85. The analyst pointed out that since January, Herbalife has made capital allocation announcements, enacted several executive changes, and found out that Bill Ackman closed out his long-standing short position. As a result, the stock has continued its upward climb from 2017, she added. Nonetheless, Kite still sees upside as Herbalife executes a tender offer and refinances its debt, to both reinvest in the business and repurchase shares in 2019. If the company can deliver its local currency sales growth guidance in 2018, it would be one of the “best top line stories” in the Household/Personal Care Products space, the analyst contended. Overall, Kite expects Herbalife to rebound from the 34% discount of the last five years, reverting to the pre-Ackman and Federal Trade Commission investigation era of 2010 and 2011, when the stock traded at an 8% premium.
ACKMAN EXITS BET AGAINST HERBALIFE: Late last month, CNBC’s Scott Wapner reported that Pershing Square’s Bill Ackman is entirely out of his much-publicized short position in Herbalife Nutrition. This also ended the high-profile feud with Carl Icahn, who was bullish on the stock. Speaking on CNBC, Icahn said he thought Ackman would get out of his Herbalife short position sooner while adding that he put up a “good fight.” Icahn also pointed out that he has not sold “one single share” of Herbalife.