Oprah Winfrey’s purse has gotten a lot thinner over the past eight months—about $560 million thinner—with J.P Morgan adding to her woes Tuesday by turning bearish on WW, the company formerly known as Weight Watchers International Inc.
The wellness and weight management company’s stock
closed down 4.5%, after paring earlier losses of as much as 10.5% to a 20-month low of $27.10 in intraday trading.
The stock has now shed 72.0% since the June 20, 2018 record close of $103.09.
Oprah is WW’s second-largest shareholder, as she beneficially owns 7,524,344 shares, or about 11% of the shares outstanding, according to her most-recent filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
At the record close, Oprah’s stake had a market value of about $776 million. At current prices, it would only be worth about $218 million.
But before investors shed any tears for the media mogul, her stake is still worth about $170 million more than when she bought it. And that’s not including the more-than $126 million she made when she sold a chunk of shares in early March 2018.
Analyst Christina Braithwaite at J.P. Morgan downgraded WW to a rare underweight rating, just one month after downgrading the company to neutral from overweight. Braithwaite also cut her stock price target to $25 from $37.
Braithwaite said her research suggests daily active users on the WW app keep contracting during the “most important time of the year.” Since the downgrade on Jan. 11, which was based on a “weak start to the New Year Resolution enrollment period,” Braithwaite said daily active user (DAU) trends have worsened, app reviews have become increasingly negative and competitors Noom and Diet Doctor have continued to gain traffic share.
WW is scheduled to report fiscal fourth-quarter results after the market closes on Feb. 26.
On Oct. 18, 2015, Oprah acquired beneficial ownership of 9,875,571 shares, through the purchase of 6,362,103 million common shares at $6.79 each and the granting of options to buy an additional 3,513,468 shares, also at $6.79.
How Oprah made, and lost money, on WW
Between March 2, 2018 and March 6, 2018, Oprah sold 2,359,702 shares of common stock at an average price of $60.48. Of the total, 1,405,387 of the shares sold were first acquired through the exercise of options at a strike price of $6.97. The company also disclosed that Oprah was granted an additional 8,180 shares between Oct. 18, 2015 and Jan. 2, 2018 as compensation for her services as director.
Excluding the shares received as compensation, Oprah made about $126.25 million on her investment, but didn’t pocket all of it. She had transferred 361,000 shares to The Oprah Winfrey Charitable Foundation before the shares were sold.
As of May 15, 2018, Oprah disclosed that she beneficially owned 7,524,344 shares of Weight Watchers, including 5,416,263 common shares and options to buy 2,108,081 shares at an exercise price of $6.79. She was granted 295 shares on April 2 as compensation for services.
At the record close of $103.09, that stake was worth $775.68 million. At current prices, it’s worth $217.53 million, or about $558.15 million less than it was just eight months ago. But excluding the shares granted as compensation, the shares she still owns are worth $166.43 million more than when she acquired them.
Weight Watchers said on Sept. 24, 2018 that it was changing its name to WW. Since then, the stock has shed 59%, while the S&P 500 index
has lost 5.1%.