With a new year upon us, we’re hoping companies like Herbalife can make some resolutions too. They’ve been on thin ice with the FTC over the past couple of years and Ackman famously shorted the (HLF) stock. It’s time for the MLM giant to be seen in a more favorable light, but changes must come first. Either way, Herbalife isn’t going away anytime soon.
Herbalife landed a settlement with the FTC in the summer of 2016 but that wasn’t enough to get them out of hot water. With a settlement comes the demand to change a business model to the standards and guidelines requested by the FTC. We understand this can be a process but if not taken seriously further repercussions will be taken. Herbalife claims they are abiding by the guidelines of the settlement but we wouldn’t say they jumped in with two feet at the chance for new life. It’s been a push and pull struggle.
We have confidence Herbalife will continue to do just enough to stay out of the way from any serious companywide threats. That’s just it though, they are doing ‘just enough’ which doesn’t exactly sit well with the FTC’s timeline. Hard to change your public image when there’s a constant crackdown or lawsuit. Not to mention Bill Ackman’s constant shaming of the company through national headlines. Even though the short he tried to pull off eventually exhausted him to the point he surrendered, his stance towards the company hasn’t changed.
Here’s why we think Ackman should have never shorted Herbalife. There are companies that run Ponzi schemes or recruiting tactics gone wild that lead to their ultimate demise. Just look at the history of Vemma. They hit a couple hundred million dollars, start to hit national headlines, and boom, the FTC cracks down. Yes, that tore their business apart, but they fixed their model and they still exist today.
Where Herbalife differs, is that they’ve been under the spotlight for a while as the fourth largest MLM in the industry. The FTC has had them on their radar and because of that little changes to recruiting or the compensation plan have been tweaked here and there. There isn’t going to be some bright awakening where the FTC shuts everything down, especially for a multi-billion-dollar company. They are smart enough to figure out how to stay within the rules even if they seem to bend them.