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

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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