As Weight Watchers tries on a slimmed-down new name, WW, and repositions itself with a focus on wellness, media mogul Oprah Winfrey — the company’s second-largest stakeholder — has seen her investment shrink by more than $500 million.
Since last September, when Weight Watchers announced it would change its name to WW and use a new tagline — “Wellness that works” — the company’s stock has shed 60 percent of its heft, making Winfrey one of its biggest losers.
“Wellness is definitely a different sell. It’s going to be a bit more of a crowded space,” said Anthony Campagna, global director of fundamental research at Institutional Shareholder Service. “When you start to think about wellness, a dieting company isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. It’s going to take time for that messaging to get out there.”
WW is set to report earnings on Tuesday for the fiscal quarter ending in December and will have to show Wall Street that it is moving full speed ahead. While Oprah has starred in WW advertisements, the company has brought on other celebrity brand ambassadors to be the faces of WW, including DJ Khaled, Kate Hudson, and in the U.K., singer Robbie Williams.
But with the stock tanking, does the company need more of a push from Oprah, who also has a media empire, her own food line and plenty of other investments?