Latest quote: (HLF: 71.29 +0.99%) – Herbalife

Billionaire investor George Soros’s stake in nutritional supplement company Herbalife counts as one of his top holdings.

And what do you know, after this was reported HLF stock price rose to its highest level ever. Interestingly, Carl Icahn (net worth $20bil) also has a sizable position in Herbalife.

I thought it was a 90’s fad that disappeared, but nope. And I have no idea how and why this product is so popular. It’s more likely to make an average person fatter than help them lose weight. Take a look at this ingredient list for their Express Meal Bar:

herbalife-ingredients-list

Yes, lots of synthetic vitamins, but also a lot of insulin triggers and artificial crap that makes your body work hard at detoxing. Byproduct of toxins is usually excess weight.

I’m also baffled as to how “know the products you invest in” would help here. I get to know the product, look at the ingredients and look at the potential to deliver what it promises… and I think “no way!”. But it’s flying high and making people rich in the process.

This is a cautionary tale. You remember gtting emails with hot penny stock tips, right? Looks like this entrprising young man was a pioneer. He was one of the first to start using the internets for the ancient scam:

Jonathan Lebed (born September 29, 1984) is an American notorious for using internet technology to hype stocks.

Cody Willard interviews Jonathan Lebed. Repost of an older interview.

Between September 1999 and February 2000 Lebed made hundreds of thousands of dollars by posting in internet chat rooms and on message boards encouraging people to buy penny stocks he already owned, thus, according to the SEC, artificially raising the price of the stock. The SEC under Arthur Levitt prosecuted him. In 2001 Lebed and the SEC negotiated an out-of-court settlement in which Lebed forfeited $285,000 in profit and interest he had made on 11 trades without admitting any wrongdoing — allowing him to keep close to half a million dollars.

The case was controversial — the SEC had never prosecuted a minor — and produced significant media interest. Lebed contended that his activity forecasting stock prices was no different from and no more illegal than what professional Wall Street analysts do every day, only he utilized the internet. Despite the negative press and SEC inquiry, Lebed continues to trade actively and sends out a free email newsletter on a daily basis in which he gives stock picks. The end of the newsletter often contains a disclaimer like the one below.

If you’re dumb enough to buy stocks on a tip like that, you deserve to lose your money. I’m not mean, I’ve been there – in the dumb, and sometimes desperate, place. I’ve never bought stocks hyped by email but I’ve held onto penny stocks way too long because of enthusiastic stock forum posts. People have hidden agendas, always a good thing to remember.

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(SHLD: 8.98 +20.21%) – Sears Holding Corporation

The stock is up 22% in afterhours trading to $62.

For the quarter ended May 2, the retailer reported profit of $26 million, or 21 cents a share, compared with a year-earlier loss of $56 million, or 43 cents a share, a year earlier. Revenue declined 9.2% to $10.06 billion, while sales at U.S. stores open at least a year fell 7.4%.

Analysts’ estimates were for a loss of 88 cents a share on revenue of $10.06 billion, according to a poll by Thomson Reuters.

Gross margin rose to 28.6% from 27.3%, while inventory fell 8.2%. U.S. overhead costs fell 6.7%.

Sears is such a sad place… I digress.

Current price-to-earnings ratio is 98 to 120, depending on the source and calculation method. And here are some other stats:

shld