First came a bogus Bulgarian bid, today rumor had it that Oprah Winfrey was buying a stake in Avon Products. When tidbit hit the Street, Avon's shares jumped as much as 19%, now they're up about 6.5%. Unfortunately, for Avon's investors, the rumor was just that and nothing more, according to a Winfrey spokesperson.
The company, which declined to comment on the rumors, has seen shares plummet 60% in 2015, making investors eager for a white knight. Avon’s sales and profit have been hit for years by a combination of woes: an exodus of its Avon Ladies sales representatives as its direct selling model struggles to adapt to modern realities, a strong dollar hurting sales overseas, and intense competition in emerging markets like Brazil and Russia.
Shares have been on a roller coaster all year. Last spring, the Wall Street Journal reported the company was looking to sell its North American business, giving shares a bump. Last week they jumped after a Citigroup research note suggested the worst might be behind Avon. Its market cap is now $1.64 billion, compared to $24 billion at its all time peak in 2004.
Winfrey recently bought a 10% stake in Weight Watchers for $43 million, which sent shares up 90% when it was announced. And the former talk show host, famous in part for her weight struggles, became an official participant in the weight-loss program.