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Can Weight Watchers (WTW) Pull a Surprise in Q1 Earnings?

Weight management service provider Weight Watchers International Inc. WTW is scheduled to release first-quarter 2016 results on May 4. In the last reported quarter, the company had posted a loss of 3 cents per share as against the Zacks Consensus Estimate of earnings of 2 cents.

However, on an average, Weight Watchers has surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 42.5% over the last four quarters.

Let’s see how things are shaping up for this announcement.

Factors at Play

Weight Watchers expects to report adjusted loss of about 20 cents in the first quarter of 2016. An unfavorable foreign exchange rate and lower starting active base are expected to affect the quarter’s results.

Total global paid weeks are expected to increase in the low single-digits in the quarter. North America revenues are expected to be flat on a year-over-year basis, while U.K. revenues are likely to decline in the low double-digits in the first quarter. In CE, revenues are expected to be down in the low double-digits.

Weight Watchers expects gross margin to contract 150 basis points in the first quarter, due to changes in product mix as well as shifts in the promotional calendar.

Although the strategic partnership with Oprah Winfrey provided the company free publicity, the deal is yet to prove accretive toward subscriber growth, an important metric to watch out for. At the end of 2015, Weight Watchers had approximately 1.4 million active online subscribers (down 13.3% from 2014) and 1.0 million active subscribers (down 16.7% from 2014) on its monthly commitment plans.

Earnings Whispers

Our proven model does not conclusively show that Weight Watchers is likely to beat estimates this quarter. That is because a stock needs to have both a positive Earnings ESP and a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), 2 (Buy) or 3 (Hold) for this to happen. That is not the case here as you will see below.

Zacks ESP:  Weight Watchers has an earnings ESP of 0.00%. That is because both the Most Accurate estimate and the Zacks Consensus Estimate stand at a loss of 18 cents per share.

Zacks Rank: Weight Watchers carries a Zacks Rank #3 which increases the predictive power of ESP. However, the company’s 0.00% ESP makes surprise prediction difficult.

Meanwhile, we caution against stocks with a Zacks Rank #4 or 5 (Sell-rated stocks) going into the earnings announcement, especially when the company is seeing negative estimate revisions.

Stocks to Consider

Here are some companies you may want to consider as our model shows they have the right combination of elements to post an earnings beat this quarter:  

PRA Health Sciences PRAH, with earnings ESP of +3.51% and a Zacks Rank #1.

Adaptimmune Therapeutics ADAP, with earnings ESP of +9.09% and a Zacks Rank #2.

Cardica CRDC, with earnings ESP of +4.26% and a Zacks Rank #2.

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CARDICA INC (CRDC): Free Stock Analysis Report
PRA HEALTH SCI (PRAH): Free Stock Analysis Report
WEIGHT WATCHERS (WTW): Free Stock Analysis Report
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