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Weight Watchers Supersize Short-Squeezed After Oprah Gobbles Up Stake

Weaight Watchers' shorts were the biggest losers this morning as Oprah Winfrey unveils a 10% stake in the greed-is-not-good company. WTW rose 100% on the news as Oprah takes a board seat and has begun a 'program' to lose weight. With 57% of the float short, (and Oprah with an option to take 5% more), all she has to do is convince 30% of investors to pull their borrow and the 100% gains suddenly become a "Volkswagen"-situation...

 

 

WTW could use a boost...

 

As Bloomberg reports,

The company has suffered from falling sales and profit as consumers migrate to free, digital methods for counting calories and keeping in shape. With the Winfrey partnership, Weight Watchers is broadening its mission to helping people live a "healthier, happier life" instead of just helping them lose weight, Chief Executive Officer Jim Chambers said in the statement.

 

“I believe in the program so much I decided to invest in the company and partner in its evolution,” said Winfrey, who’ll also serve as an adviser to the company, helping with program development and execution.

 

Weight Watchers, about 51 percent of which is owned by Luxembourg-based Artal Group SA, had fallen 73 percent this year through last week.

 

The investment gives Weight Watchers credibility with potential customers, especially among Winfrey’s large following, said RJ Hottovy, a Chicago-based analyst at Morningstar Inc. Winfrey, who is CEO of the Oprah Winfrey Network LLC and chairman of the Harpo Entertainment Group, could also open the door for advertising partnerships to consumers already in Weight Watchers’ demographic.

 

“It brings an unprecedented level of commitment for a Weight Watchers celebrity endorsement,” said Hottovy, who has a hold rating on the shares. “It potentially expands their audience and opens up some intriguing marketing opportunities as well.”