WeightWatchers shares plunge by 25% after Oprah Winfrey announces departure from board

Winfrey has served on the company’s board of directors since 2015.

February 29, 2024, 6:19 PM

Shares in WeightWatchers dropped by more than 25% in premarket trading Thursday after Oprah Winfrey’s announcement that she has decided not to stand for reelection to the board at the upcoming annual meeting of shareholders in May.

Winfrey has served on the company’s board of directors since 2015, according to a statement from the company confirming her departure.

After briefly rallying at the opening bell, the stock remained down by 23% midday Thursday.

“I look forward to continuing to advise and collaborate with WeightWatchers and CEO Sima Sistani in elevating the conversation around recognizing obesity as a chronic condition, working to reduce stigma, and advocating for health equity,” said Oprah Winfrey.

Winfrey also announced that she plans to donate her financial interest in WeightWatchers to the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.

PHOTO: 66th GRAMMY Awards - Backstage
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 04: Oprah Winfrey attends the 66th GRAMMY Awards at Crypto.com Arena on February 04, 2024 in Los Angeles, California.
Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for The Recording A

“Weight Health is a critically important topic and one that needs to be addressed at a broader scale. I plan to participate in a number of public forums and events where I will be a vocal advocate in advancing this conversation,” continued Winfrey. “In addition, I have decided to donate my interest in WeightWatchers to the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC). I have been a long-time supporter of this worthy organization, and I am proud to continue my support.”

The Board of Directors of WeightWatchers said that they were supportive of Winfrey’s proposal to donate all of her stock to the museum.

“Ms. Winfrey is making the donation to support the NMAAHC’s goal to promote and highlight the contributions of African Americans and to eliminate any perceived conflict of interest around her taking weight loss medications,” WeightWatchers said in their statement. “In addition, Ms. Winfrey intends to donate the proceeds from any future exercises of her WW stock options to NMAAHC.”

Meanwhile, the company published its latest financial report on Wednesday, including its fourth-quarter and full-year 2023 results which showed a total loss of $88.1 million, more than twice the amount during the same period in the previous year at $35.8 million.

Winfrey has a stake in the company of around 10% and is one of the company’s biggest shareholders.

“Oprah has been an inspiring presence and passionate advocate for our members, providing critical insights and counsel that has helped shape WeightWatchers over these last 8 years. On behalf of the Board, I would like to thank her for her energy, dedication, and for continuing to play a role as collaborator and thought partner going forward. What I know for sure, we will dearly miss her presence on the Board,” said Thilo Semmelbauer, chairman of the board.

In a statement Thursday evening, WeightWatchers thanked Winfrey for being a part of the organization for so long.

"After nearly a decade of service as a member of WeightWatchers’ Board of Directors, Oprah Winfrey has decided to not stand for re-election in May," the statement read. "We are deeply grateful to Oprah for her dedication, unwavering support, and invaluable partnership. Her ability to inspire millions of people to put their health and wellness first will have a lasting impact on our members and brand. We’re enthusiastic about her continued advisement and collaboration with the company, including her role in our upcoming Weight Health event and her advocacy in addressing this critically important topic."

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