February 26, 2019 / 9:40 PM / 8 months ago

Oprah-backed Weight Watchers slumps 30 percent on weak revenue forecast

FILE PHOTO: Oprah Winfrey talks on stage during a taping of her TV show in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., February 5, 2019. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

(Reuters) - Shares of Weight Watchers International Inc plunged 30 percent on Tuesday after it forecast 2019 revenue below Wall Street expectations, and the company said investor Oprah Winfrey will play a central role in its marketing campaign.

The company said it expects 2019 revenue to be about $1.4 billion, below analysts’ average estimate of $1.66 billion, according to IBES estimate from Refinitiv.

“We had a soft start to 2019 versus last year’s strong performance with the launch of WW Freestyle ... Given our Winter Campaign did not recruit as expected, we have been focused on improving member recruitment trends,” Chief Executive Officer Mindy Grossman said in a statement.

Grossman added Oprah Winfrey will play a central role in the company’s upcoming TV and digital marketing campaign for Spring.

She currently holds an 8 percent stake in the company, after selling a portion of her holdings in 2018.

Reporting by Uday Sampath in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila

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