Herbalife Ltd. (NYSE: HLF), a global nutrition and direct selling company, paid out a record $36.4 million in bonuses to independent distributors at its Mark Hughes Bonus Award ceremony in Beverly Hills on Sunday. The independent distributors represented 30 countries and all have built their own businesses and achieved success through direct selling. With 90 checks over $100,000, the top six bonus winners received checks for $1 million or more.
“Herbalife stands at the intersection of health and wealth and we’re poised to positively address two key issues facing the world, unemployment and obesity,” said Herbalife Chairman and CEO Michael O. Johnson. “Our independent distributors that were honored come from every walk of life and find their passion and calling providing good nutrition with our products and business opportunity.”
Former U.S. Secretary of State Dr. Madeleine K. Albright addressed the group of over 1,200 independent distributors Friday. Albright also attended the annual fundraiser for the Herbalife Family Foundation Friday night, as did two-time Olympic skating champion and TV entertainer Katarina Witt, whose 2008 Farewell Tour was sponsored by Herbalife. Through its Casa Herbalife program, the Herbalife Family Foundation helps provide good nutrition to children in need. There are currently 40 such programs on five continents.
The event brought distributor leaders from around the world, and capped a four-day celebration at the Beverly Hilton with education and training, recognition and camaraderie. The event generated approximately $3 million for the city of Los Angeles in lodging and entertainment. Herbalife, with approximately 1,200 employees in Los Angeles, has been based in LA since its inception in 1980. The company moved its corporate headquarters to LA Live in downtown LA last December to help support the area’s revitalization.
Direct-selling companies such as Herbalife are giving people an opportunity to earn part-time money, take responsibility for their income and be less dependent on others. The industry is open to the widest range of people - college grads to seniors to stay-at-home moms to business professionals. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of unemployed persons in the U.S. increased by 851,000 to 12.5 million in February.
As obesity figures also continue to grow, Herbalife’s Formula 1 shake provides a healthy meal with balanced nutrition at less than $2 a serving (based on U.S. suggested retail price) and about 180 calories, considerably less than most fat-laden fast foods or latte and muffin alternatives.