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Weight Watchers' Bad News Is Oprah's Bad News

Shares are down by a third after a disappointing start to 2019
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 27, 2019 12:24 PM CST
In this March 6, 2018 file photo, Oprah Winfrey attends The Museum of Modern Art's David Rockefeller Award Luncheon honoring Oprah Winfrey at the Ziegfeld Ballroom in New York.Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2019.   (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP, File)

(Newser) – Oprah Winfrey's Weight Watchers investment slimmed way down—at least on paper—Wednesday morning. Shares fell 36% to $18.90 after trading began on the company's news the prior day that 2019 is off to a disappointing start, eating $58 million of Oprah's value. (The year's start is a key financial time for companies in the health space.) Don't feel too bad for her, though. Fortune notes she's worth an estimated $3.5 billion, and Winfrey's 10% share of the company was purchased in 2015 for $6.79 a share, so her stock has tripled in value. But it was at one time worth much, much more: The 52-week high is $105.73. Shares are currently trading at $19.80.

USA Today's take: "The company rebranded as WW in 2018 with Winfrey's blessing, aiming to ride a wave of interest in wellness and natural ingredients. But the pivot away from a clear focus on weight loss may be sputtering." They're engaging Oprah as part of a turnaround effort, with the AP reporting the company is hoping to up subscriber counts in the spring. CEO Mindy Grossman told shareholders Oprah will "play a central role in our upcoming TV and digital marketing campaign." (Read more Oprah Winfrey stories.)

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