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NutriSystem Tops Earnings Estimates; Shares Leap

Shares of NutriSystem rose as much as 17.5% in after-hours trading after the company reported quarterly results above consensus estimates and re-issued first-quarter guidance.

The Horsham, Pa.-based company, which markets weight management products, announced fourth-quarter earnings of 53 cents a share on revenue of $134 million. Analysts polled by Thomson Financial expected earnings of 51 cents a share on revenue of $131 million.

Looking ahead, NutriSystem said fiscal first-quarter earnings are expected to range from 88 to 92 cents a share, compared with the Wall Street consensus forecast of 85 cents.

NutriSystem shares took a beating at the end of January when it pre-announced quarterly earnings and offered first-quarter earnings guidance of 82 to 86 cents a share.

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The company said it is focusing on winning back former customers. "We are very bullish on our reactivation revenue," Chief Marketing Officer Tom Connerty said during a conference call with analysts Wednesday evening.

NutriSystem also announced a $200 million stock buyback plan that will expire in August 2008.

Gains made by the company's shares in post-market trading came on top of a better than 5% jump to $43.88 that the stock made during the day Wednesday.