Weight Watchers International Inc. (NYSE: WTW)posted an increase in subscribers for the first time in four years, thanks to a partnership with Oprah Winfrey and its new diet plan.
The company said that the global subscribers increase 4.8 percent to 3.1 million in the quarter ended April 2. In North America, subscribers jumped 11 percent. This marked the first membership growth after years of declines since 2012, the company said Wednesday.
“This is evidence that consumer momentum is proven, and that the transformation is working,” Chief Executive Jim Chambers said in an interview Wednesday. “It has given us confidence to expect revenue and profit growth for the full year and in Q2.”
In October, Ms. Winfrey agreed to buy a 10 percent stake in the company and joined the board. Since then, Winfrey helped promote and advertise the business. For example, she tweeted about her weight loss after using diet plan and released a video about her surprise appearance at a Weight Watchers meeting in New York last month.
Thanks to ‘Oprah effect', the company raised its annual guidance. The company now expects earnings of 80 cents to $1.05 a share, up from a previous forecast of 70 cents to $1.
The company posted a loss of 17 cents per share in the first quarter.
“Our first-quarter loss was smaller than we expected, and for the first time since 2012 we grew our total subscribers year-over-year, clearly demonstrating that our business is turning around,” Jim Chambers said in the statement.
Weight Watchers rose 3.7 percent to $12.99 at 2:31 p.m. in New York.