Photo: (from left) Gene Hughes, Nature’s Sunshine Founder; Kristine Hughes, Founder and Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors; Utah Gov. Gary Herbert; Pauline Hughes, Founder; Dr. Matthew Tripp, Chief Scientific Officer.
Nature’s Sunshine Products Inc. (NATR—Nasdaq) is shrugging off a rocky fourth quarter with the launch of a multimillion-dollar research center and its forthcoming entry into China.
The company’s nutrition and personal-care products generated $86.7 million in fourth quarter revenue. Earnings were 5 cents per share, coming in 18 cents below the consensus estimate of 23 cents a share. Like many companies operating in Russia and Eastern Europe, Nature’s Sunshine felt the adverse effects of an increasingly strong dollar underscored by geopolitical challenges in the region.
Strong sales in Korea, Japan and Europe boosted the company’s Synergy WorldWide subsidiary, which accounted for $30.8 million in quarterly revenue, an increase of 8.3 percent over the prior-year period. The results represent a 13.0 percent increase in local currencies, impacted by declining sales at Synergy North America.
Nature’s Sunshine reported full-year revenue of $366.4 million, down 0.9 percent from 2013, or a 0.5 percent decrease in local currencies. Operating income fell 19.2 percent to $19.0 million, compared to $23.6 million in 2013. In November, Nature’s Sunshine pulled out of Venezuela due to economic uncertainties stemming from import controls and inflation.
The supplement firm is forging ahead with its plan to enter China in 2015 through a joint venture with Fosun Pharma, which accounted for $2.2 million in startup costs. The brand has brought on Paul Noack, an industry executive with experience in the Asia Pacific region, to serve as President of China and New Markets, as well as additional recruits to its China leadership team.
Nature’s Sunshine followed up its earnings report with the grand opening of the Hughes Center for Research and Innovation, a new state-of-the-art facility located at its corporate headquarters in Lehi, Utah. Utah Gov. Gary Herbert was on hand to officially open the 5,400-square-foot center, where the Nature’s Sunshine R&D team will research how nutritional supplements interact with the body at the molecular level.
“The Hughes Center for Research and Innovation incorporates some of the most advanced technology in the industry,” said Dr. Matthew Tripp, Chief Scientific Officer. “For example, the Flexmap3D can analyze 500 analytes, such as genes and proteins, from a single human sample, such as a drop of blood.”
The center’s research will combat health mega-trends driven by diet and lifestyle choices through natural, nutritionally therapeutic products, said Chairman and CEO Gregory Probert. The new facility features labs and clinical space, as well as exam rooms for consultations and clinical studies.