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August 01, 2016

News in Brief

News in Brief, August 2016


Nu Skin Secures $210 Million Investment from China

TEXTNu Skin headquarters in Provo, Utah.

Nu Skin Enterprises has taken on a strategic investment in its largest geographic market. In June, the Utah-based company inked a deal with a group of investors led by Ping An of China Securities Hong Kong, one of China’s largest insurers, and additional investors affiliated with ZQ Capital Ltd. Under the terms of the deal, Ping An ZQ China Growth Ltd. purchased $210 million in convertible senior notes due in 2020. The agreement also stipulates that Shen Zheqing of ZQ Capital will be appointed to Nu Skin’s board.

“Ping An and ZQ Capital bring significant local market knowledge and valuable expertise that we believe will positively impact our long-term growth opportunities in this important region,” said Nu Skin CEO Truman Hunt. Nu Skin plans to invest a portion of the proceeds in its China business, which accounted for more than one-third of the company’s $2.25 billion in sales in 2015, and the remainder will be used to buy back shares in the company, boosting the stock’s value for shareholders.

Nu Skin is the 10th-largest direct selling company in the world, based on the 2016 DSN Global 100 rankings, and is truly an international giant with operations in 54 markets worldwide and the Nu Skin Force for Good Foundation, which focuses its charitable efforts on health, education, economic opportunity and disaster relief programs around the globe. On June 20, Nu Skin celebrated its 13th-annual Force for Good Day with a number of humanitarian projects, including a massive clothing drive in Greater China, donating clothes and toys to two orphanages in the Netherlands, and assembling 10,000 lunches for children in need at Nu Skin’s corporate headquarters.


Tupperware Donates $200K to Establish Brownie Wise Park

Brownie WiseBrownie Wise

A $200,000 donation from Orlando-based Tupperware will help to develop a new local park in honor of Brownie Wise, the kitchenware company’s pioneering saleswoman.

According to Osceola County officials, Brownie Wise Park will be located on the eastern shore of Lake Tohopekaliga, about four miles south of Tupperware headquarters. The site, previously known as Candella Island, and surrounding land was purchased by the county in 2014.

The donation from Tupperware will furnish the park with an information kiosk, dock area, picnic pavilion and canoe and kayak launch. The kiosk will provide information and history on Tupperware and Wise, who for a time lived in a lakeside mansion owned by the company.

Wise was a driving force behind the development of the party plan model and headed up Tupperware’s Home Party Division from 1951 to 1958, following a stint at another early direct selling company, Stanley Home Products. As her success grew, the charming and upbeat Wise became the face of Tupperware and an inspiration for women in business, even becoming the first woman to grace the cover of Businessweek.

The story of Wise and the early days of the company was chronicled in Tupperware Unsealed, a 2008 book by Bob Kealing. A film adaptation, starring Oscar winner Sandra Bullock as Wise, is currently in development.

The planned Brownie Wise Park and its surroundings will be named Tupperware Island Conservation Area. All told, the county plans to spend approximately $1.1 million on park amenities and habitat restoration. Tupperware and its employees will have exclusive use of Brownie Wise Park for four days per year for 20 years.


Makeup Artist Luis Casco Becomes Mary Kay Global Beauty Ambassador

TEXTLuis Casco advises Mary Kay independent sales consultants as Global Beauty Ambassador.

Renowned makeup artist Luis Casco and one of the world’s largest direct sales companies are taking their partnership to the next level.

Mary Kay Inc. has appointed Casco as its Global Beauty Ambassador, a role it created just for him, said Chief Marketing Officer Sheryl Adkins-Green. Casco made his name on such well-known television shows as The View and Project Runway and has represented the cosmetics company in various capacities since 1996. In this new position, he will advise Mary Kay on product and color development and will work more closely with independent sales consultants on beauty trends, beauty techniques and sales education.

Adkins-Green said the synergy between Casco and Mary Kay, ranked No. 4 on Direct Selling News’ Global 100 list, has always been strong. This new position will further leverage their shared vision. “Luis has an amazing ability to make women feel very confident about wearing color and how to apply color—that’s essential to the success of a makeup brand like Mary Kay,” she continued. “Just as Mary Kay Ash said, everyone has an invisible sign around their neck that says, ‘Make me feel important.’ His value system makes everyone feel important.”


JRJR Networks Reports Positive Trends in 2015

Dallas-based JRJR Networks, which operates a portfolio of 10 direct selling and direct-to-consumer company brands, finalized its 2015 financial statement in June, reporting annual revenue of $138.4 million, up 27 percent from $108.8 million in 2014.

Last year, JRJR Networks approximately doubled the size of its business with the acquisitions of two United Kingdom-based brands: Kleeneze and Betterware.

Gross profit totaled $71.8 million, versus the prior year’s $53.3 million. The company, formerly known as CVSL, said the release was delayed by a longer-than-anticipated audit of its portfolio companies, whose operations span 50 countries.

The company narrowed its loss to $18.8 million from $23.7 million a year ago. The results include a $1.7 million after-tax write-down on inventory at basket maker The Longaberger Company. “Excluding inventory impairments, in 2015, we cut our operating loss by more than half,” said CFO Chris Brooks. “We also reduced the earnings per share loss by half. We expect continued good progress on that front. We also expect to see EPS turn positive this year.”


Beachbody Goes International with Workout Streaming Service

Following an initial rollout in North America and the United Kingdom, Beachbody is bringing its fitness streaming app to more than 140 countries worldwide.

Beachbody On Demand International connects users to a broad selection of programs and workouts led by the brand’s celebrity trainers, including P90X with celebrity trainer Tony Horton and Insanity with Shaun T. The service, which carries a 30-day money back guarantee, also features programs created exclusively for Beachbody On Demand subscribers.

The Santa Monica, California, company initially offered the streaming service to its network of nearly 350,000 Coaches, or independent distributors, who provided feedback on the user experience. For every new international signup, Beachbody has pledged to donate $5 to International Justice Mission.

“We want to do more than just help people get healthy and fit. We want to help end human trafficking and slavery across the world,” CEO Carl Daikeler said on his corporate blog.

The nonprofit IJM has 17 field offices throughout Africa, Latin America, and South and Southeast Asia, where it works to transform the justice system on a local level. Partnering with local police, public prosecution and social workers, IJM rescues victims from ongoing violence, represents them in court and restores them to their communities. Through this process, the organization aims to identify and address weaknesses in the justice system.


WorldVentures, Nancy Lieberman Open Latest DreamCourt in Indiana

TEXTNancy Lieberman Charities and WorldVentures dedicate DreamCourt to NBA coach Del Harris, for Wayne County Boys & Girls Club in Indiana.

Partnering with Nancy Lieberman Charities, the WorldVentures Foundation recently dedicated DreamCourt No. 25 in Richmond, Indiana. The state-of-the-art basketball courts are installed in underprivileged communities to provide a safe area for children to play and interact. As is usually the case, the new DreamCourt is situated near a local Boys & Girls Club, where young people congregate for after-school programs. The court pays tribute to former NBA head coach Del Harris, who began his coaching career at nearby Earlham College.

“I came to Richmond over 50 years ago and played on the old court right here in this park,” Harris said earlier this month at the opening of the six-goal DreamCourt. “In fact, we won a tournament here and many of my teammates went on to be inducted into the Indiana Hall of Fame.”

The WorldVentures Foundation has built DreamCourts across the U.S. alongside charitable partner Nancy Lieberman Charities. Lieberman is a WNBA legend who joined the Sacramento Kings last summer as the second-ever female assistant coach in the NBA. Her charity aims to provide healthy physical, emotional and mental environments for young girls and boys to build their self-esteem and confidence.

“This court is not mine, it’s not Del’s, it’s yours,” Lieberman said to youth on hand for the ribbon-cutting ceremony. “And we hope that one day you will do the same for other kids.”


Immunotec Reports Record Quarterly Revenue

TEXT

Nutritional products maker Immunotec Inc. (IMM—CVE) reported record quarterly revenue and a new sponsorship deal with professional sailing team Artemis Racing.

In the quarter ended April 30, overall revenue was $25.6 million (Canadian), up 28 percent from $20.0 million a year ago. Quebec, Canada-based Immunotec logged a 38 percent sales increase in Mexico, a 27 percent increase in the U.S., and an 11 percent uptick in Canada.

“The increase of our sponsoring numbers is above 30 percent in all of our key markets, which indicates a strong momentum for the quarters ahead,” CFO Patrick Montpetit said of Immunotec’s customer and consultant tallies. “We are confident that we are on track to achieve $100.0M in revenues for fiscal 2016.”

Adjusted EBITDA also improved, amounting to $2.0 million versus $1.4 million in the year-ago period. Profit doubled year over year to $0.6 million.

In May, management announced a new sponsorship of Artemis Racing, which represents the Royal Swedish Yacht Club, one of the oldest yacht clubs in the world. Immunotec will be the Official Supporter of Artemis as it takes part in Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series events, leading up to the 2017 America’s Cup.

“The physiological demands of sailing the present America’s Cup foiling catamarans are immense, and keeping the guys healthy and optimizing recovery is crucially important,” said Pete Cunningham, Artemis Racing Exercise Physiologist. “That’s where I see Immunotec playing a major role with their products and also their clinical experts in this field.”

Health Canada last year approved the health claim that Immunocal, the company’s flagship immune support product, helps increase muscle strength and enhance performance when combined with regular exercise. Additionally, Immunocal and the second-generation Immunocal Platinum were recently certified by LGC, a globally recognized anti-doping lab. Cunningham said these factors, along with Immunotec’s long history of scientific research and publishing, were critical in deciding to partner with the company.


Festival Celebrates Direct Selling in China

TEXTLaunch ceremony of 9th annual World (China) Direct Selling Brand Festival in Wuhan, China.

Representatives from more than 50 companies participated in the 9th annual World (China) Direct Selling Brand Festival in Wuhan in June. The event is presented by DIR Group Management Co. Ltd., which provides industry research and consulting services to direct selling companies in China. It included a banquet, opening ceremony, general session, roundtable meeting for VIPs, workshop for distributors and leaders, and an awards celebration. The event also featured an exhibition of companies and suppliers. The next day, executives participated in a meeting focused on the analysis of the Chinese direct selling environment, followed by visits to several direct selling companies operating in China for site inspections and an exchange of ideas.


Nerium Targets Fourth Quarter for Entry into Australia

Nerium International has added Australia to the growing roster of markets the skincare company plans to open in 2016.

The news comes on the heels of Nerium’s Japan launch in July, where the company put fully integrated operations in place. From day one, Japanese Brand Partners and customers were supported by a regional office—including an in-house customer support call center—and a Nerium Brand Center set to open in Tokyo.

To date, the Dallas area company has expanded internationally into Canada, Mexico and South Korea. In addition to Australia, slated to open in the fourth quarter, management has disclosed plans to enter Colombia and another Asia-Pacific market, Hong Kong, by year end.

“Australia is a thriving market for both the global anti-aging skincare segment and direct sales industry,” Jeff Olson, Founder and CEO, told DSN. “Nerium’s leadership team looks forward to bringing our unique business model and revolutionary products to Australia as we continue to expand Nerium International into the Asia-Pacific market.”


LifeVantage, Usborne Books Parent Are Best in State for Annual Returns

Two direct selling companies appear in a new ranking by Forbes that identifies the top-performing public companies in every state.

In the past year, Oklahoma’s Educational Development Corp. (EDUC—NASDAQ) and Utah’s LifeVantage Corp. (LFVN—NASDAQ) produced the highest return on investment in their respective states. Forbes used data from FactSet, a financial research and analytics firm, to track the total return of every U.S.-based public company from June 2015 to June 2016.

Educational Development Corp. (EDC) publishes and sells children’s books through EDC Publishing and the larger Usborne Books & More direct selling division. After more than four decades in business, EDC is in the midst of three years of growth, following a nine-year stretch of declining sales. In first quarter 2016, the company logged record revenue of $22.9 million versus $9.6 million a year earlier. The stock yielded an annual return of 139.4 percent, according to Forbes.

LifeVantage led Utah-based corporations with an annual return of 253.6 percent, which puts it in the top five companies overall. In the past year, the maker of health and wellness products has made several key appointments to its executive team under the new leadership of Darren Jensen, who joined LifeVantage as President and CEO in April 2015.