GNC lowers guidance for the year after disappointing quarter

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Pittsburgh-based vitamins and supplements retailer GNC Holdings Inc. has lowered its guidance for the year after reporting a slight drop in second quarter revenue, $675.2 million, compared with $676.3 million a year ago.

In a media briefing Tuesday to report second quarter financial results, GNC officials said the yearly earnings per share guidance is now about $2.85, down from $3.05 to $3.10.

Net income was $69.89 million, down from $71.69 a year ago, and diluted earnings per share was 77 cents for the three months, compared with 73 cents for the same period in 2013. Same store sales decreased 4 percent in domestic, company-owned stores. A year earlier, those sales showed a 6.8 percent increase.

As he did following GNC’s first quarter, President, CEO and Chairman Joe Fortunato cited a variety of factors for the flattened results, including a softened market for supplements, increased negative media and an unusually harsh winter.

But he also outlined steps the company will be taking over the remainder of 2014 to build momentum and ensure GNC’s long-term growth, such as simplifying pricing and “reigniting brand awareness” by differentiating GNC products from its competitors’.

Between buy-one-get-one promotions, coupons, Gold Card specials and other discounts, Mr. Fortunato said the company had become too predictable. He also wants GNC stores to be more appealing to women, a concept that will be incorporated in plans for updating store layouts.

Describing it as a move to “get back to the basics,” Mr. Fortunato said they’re planning “a smooth, methodical transition back to what we always did well.”

GNC stocked finished the day at $32.75, up 19 cents from Monday’s closing.

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