Billionaire Oprah Makes Bank On Weight Watchers Windfall

By partnering with Weight Watchers International Inc. (WTW), Oprah Winfrey single-handedly lifted the once-ailing stock into triple-digit gains. Now, the media mogul is cashing in on those gains.

Winfrey just sold about 25 percent of her stake in Weight Watchers for about 8 to 9 times what she paid, selling shares over the course of several days, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing. In the past year alone, Weight Watchers shares have gained 247 percent.

New York-based Weight Watchers has benefited from Winfrey's support as the two brands share a target demographic – women who want to lose weight. Part of the deal gave her a seat on the company’s board of directors, and she also serves in an advisory role.

Winfrey is also a member of the Weight Watchers weight loss program and has been sharing her experiences. That has inspired double-digit gains in new members, many of whom had previously dropped the brand but rejoined, thanks to Oprah.

In October 2015, Winfrey bought 10 percent of the company for roughly $6.79 per share. She also received options to buy another 5 percent of Weight Watchers stock for $6.97 per share, and she exercised that right earlier this month, buying more than 1.4 million shares. According to the SEC filing, Winfrey donated some of her returns from the stock sale to the Oprah Winfrey Charitable Foundation. (See also: 10 Most Successful Women Entrepreneurs of the Decade.)

On Wednesday, Weight Watchers stock closed at $61.13, up 2.71 percent, after having gained more than 4.8 percent in the session.

“I am deeply committed to Weight Watchers and continue to see a bright future for the company,” Winfrey said in a statement. “I believe in Weight Watchers and I’m inspired every day by the millions of people around the world who are leading healthier and more fulfilling lives.”

Last week, Weight Watchers reported that its fourth-quarter revenue increased 17 percent from the year prior. Its “end of period” subscribers increased 22 percent during that time.

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