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WeightWatchers Shares Plunge as Oprah Winfrey Announces Departure from Board

WeightWatchers, officially known as WW International, faced a significant downturn in its stock value following the revelation that Oprah Winfrey, a prominent celebrity shareholder and board member since 2015, would be stepping down later in the year. This development added to the challenges for WW, which has been struggling to achieve profitability. The company’s stock plummeted by 24.5% to $2.88, marking a loss of over half its value since the beginning of the year.

Oprah Winfrey has decided to donate her shares in the weight management firm to the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Despite her departure from the board, she intends to maintain an advisory role and collaborate with WW and CEO Sima Sistani. According to LSEG data, Winfrey’s holdings amounted to 1.13 million shares valued at $6.34 million as of January 1.

The decision to donate her shares aims to address any potential conflicts of interest, particularly concerning Winfrey’s use of weight loss medications. WW emphasized that this move would help eliminate perceived conflicts and maintain transparency regarding Winfrey’s involvement with the company.

The departure of Oprah Winfrey from the board underscores broader challenges faced by WW, as indicated by Troy Harmon, chief investment officer at Henssler Financial. He suggests that Winfrey’s exit reflects a broader societal preference for quick fixes rather than lifestyle adjustments, hinting at the possibility of Winfrey endorsing obesity drugs produced by companies like Eli Lilly and Novo Nordisk.

WW’s stock performance has notably lagged behind that of obesity drugmakers such as Eli Lilly and Novo Nordisk. Despite hopes for a boost following WW’s acquisition of the telehealth platform Sequence, signaling its entry into the prescription obesity drug market, the company’s stock has struggled to maintain its value. Concerns surrounding WW’s growth prospects and liquidity have also contributed to the decline in its stock value, according to Barclays analyst Stephanie Davis.


Joan David-Leonhard

Joan David Leonhard is a recent Pharm.D graduate with a strong passion for the pharmaceutical industry and a particular interest in pharmaceutical media and communication. Her brief internship experience includes roles in pharmacy where she built strong patient-pharmacist relationships and a pharmaceutical media internship where she actively contributed to drug information articles, blog posts, social media engagement, and various media projects.
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