Freestylin’: Oprah’s Weight Watchers Investment Amazes Wall Street

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Written by Ann Brown

Oprah magic has happened again.

It seems like most anything Oprah Winfrey touches turns to green–money green. Her recent partnership with Weight Watchers is more than proof. She’s even amazed Wall Street.

“In October 2015, Winfrey made a $43 million investment in Weight Watchers International, then an increasingly beleaguered dieting company worth less than $7 a share, joined its board and lent her brand of positive self-help to its marketing,” The Financial Times reported.

Now, the stock has hit a record $101 — a 1,400-percent rise since Winfrey bought in. The company is now worth $543 million. And in the process Winfrey made more than a few million. Her fortune was bumped up to $4 billion, giving her the distinction of being the first Black female entrepreneur on Bloomberg’s Billionaires List.  Winfrey’s Weight Watchers stock, bought for $43.5 million, is now worth more than $400 million.

Earlier in the year, Winfrey sold about a quarter of her stake in the company. “She still owns nearly 5.5 million shares. But she sold about 2 million in March at prices ranging from about $58 to $64 a share. She made $110 million in the process. Winfrey also donated more than 360,000 shares to her charitable organization,” CNN reported.

Orpha’s presence has boosted  Weight Watcher’s bottom line. “In 2017, Weight Watchers outperformed Hedge Fund Research’s activist index, which gained 5.5 percent, by 281 percent,” The Financial Times reported. The company has achieved a record 4.6 million members.

New York-based Weight Watchers said it was already making some significant changes before Winfrey’s involvement, such as remodeling its food -racking app and online social network, Connect.

Winfrey has been involved. Not only did she invest mone and help pick the staff, but she also featured prominently in U.S. marketing, and attended events for its 18,000 employees. Winfrey’s name was also used in Weight Watchers’ marketing,

“I am deeply committed to Weight Watchers and continue to see a bright future for the company,” Winfrey said in a statement.

Perhaps the key to Winfrey’s investment success is that she invests in companies she is passionate about. She made her deal with Weight Watchers in 2015 after trying and liking the company’s new, less restrictive food plan. She is a member of the Weight Watchers community as well as an investor.

Winfrey will next work her magic on Apple, which recently announced that she had signed an exclusive deal to produce programs for its promised video platform. With Winfrey, Apple is hoping to better compete with Netflix and Amazon.