Weight Watchers Gets Lift as JPMorgan Abandons Bearish View By

© Reuters. – Shares of Weight Watchers International surged on Thursday as JPMorgan upgraded its outlook on the stock, ditching its bearish outlook on the company, citing a stabilized subscriber trends.

JPMorgan upgraded its investment rating on Weight Watchers (NASDAQ:) to neutral from underweight and raised its price target on the stock to $22 from $17, sending the stock more than 7% higher.

“We believe that steps taken to redirect the marketing message to dieting have worked to stabilize recruitment trends,” JPMorgan (NYSE:) analysts wrote in a note to clients.

The health and wellness company saw its stock tumble nearly 30% on Feb. 26 after its fourth-quarter results and guidance fell short of Wall Street’s expectations, prompting downgrades from a slew of analysts. The stock had already been falling badly from a 52-week high of $96.47 reached in July 2018. It bottomed at $16.71 on May 31 and is 42% since.

Still, the shares are down 42% for 2019.

Weight Watchers (NASDAQ:) is down 42% so far this year.
Weight Watchers (NASDAQ:) is down 42% so far this year.

Analysts had blamed the company’s weaker quarter results on a plunge in subscriber growth amid poor communication about the shift to a more of wellness company than a weight loss company.

But JPMorgan said the slump in earnings this year was starting to take a backseat to the potential growth opportunity brought on by the launch of a new diet program.

“We believe investors are beginning to look past the expected ~50% earnings decline this year and instead focus on the potential growth opportunity in 2020 following the launch of a new diet program at the end of this year,” the bank said.

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