Sell GNC on risky Super Bowl ad and end of its paid membership program, Piper Jaffray says

A customer at a GNC Holdings store in New York.
Jin Lee | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Piper Jaffray initiated an underweight rating on GNC Holdings, saying the retailer of vitamins and health products will report financial results below expectations next year due to its faltering business strategy.

"We've taken a deeper dive into our estimates for next year and continue to believe price reductions and the elimination of the paid membership represent meaningful earnings risks," analyst Sean Naughton wrote in a note to clients Friday.

The company's "first ever Super Bowl ad seems like a risky marketing decision," he added.

GNC shares are down 61 percent this year through Thursday as the retailer has struggled with disappointing sales and guidance.