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Nu Skin Issues Weak Guidance

Stock down despite better-than-expected first-quarter results.

Shares of Nu Skin Enterprises Inc. fell nearly 4 percent as trading commenced Tuesday after the firm provided cautious second-quarter guidance following a first quarter in which it far exceeded expected results.

In the three months ended March 31, the Provo, Utah-based direct marketer of anti-aging products saw net income expand 18.4 percent to $64.3 million, or $1.05 a diluted share, from $54.3 million, or 90 cents, in the year-ago period. On average, analysts expected EPS of 94 cents.

Led by a 63.3 percent increase in sales in Greater China, to $278.9 million, revenues expanded to $671.1 million, 24 percent above the prior-year level of $541.3 million and above the analysts’ consensus estimate of $656.8 million. The company said revenue would have been 4 percent higher at constant currency, although foreign exchange lifted its results in Greater China by 2 percent.

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However, shares fell 3.9 percent to $84.21 in the opening minutes of New York Stock Exchange trading Tuesday as the company provided guidance for the second quarter that was well below Wall Street estimates. The company anticipates sales of about $700 million and EPS of about $1.25 for the period. Analysts had expected sales of $789.5 million and EPS of $1.43.

“Because we are only a few days into the recommencement of promotional activities in China, it is difficult to forecast how the business will perform,” said Ritch Wood, chief financial officer. “Ideally, we would have more time to monitor the direction of the business in China before providing updated guidance.”

Nu Skin elected to suspend promotional meetings and the recruitment of new sales personnel in China after media reports questioned its recruiting and selling practices.

“Our results are particularly encouraging given the business disruption we experienced in China during the first quarter, as well as currency headwinds we faced in many markets,” said Truman Hunt, president and chief executive officer.  “With respect to China, our team took aggressive, proactive steps to address media and regulatory concerns in a timely manner. While those first-quarter events in China will have a negative impact on 2014 results, we are now focused on generating sustainable long-term growth.”