Options Trading News

February 20, 2013  Wed 8:18 AM CT

Take Bill Ackman out of the equation. Take Carl Icahn out of the equation. Take Dan Loeb out of the equation.

Where does that leave Herbalife? How about as an international company that is doing well, enough so that it could leave the 20 percent of its business that is in the U.S. market and still do great?

Isn't that the ultimate weapon against the shorts? Isn't that the ultimate unimpaired earning power of Herbalife?

When Ackman says HLF belongs at zero, it means he thinks that U.S. regulators--which regulators, we aren't sure--will just shut it down. They will do that, he believes, because he is smarter, wiser, and more caring than they are. They will do it, he believes, because he has done all of their work for them and they just have to issue the edict.

But how about Herbalife? Does it have to stand by the edict? What happens if it takes one of the least profitable of its businesses, the U.S, and simply walks away from it?

That's the ultimate challenge to Ackman. Herbalife is barely a U.S. company.

TheStreet.com logoI know that Icahn and Loeb like it, and I sure wish that they would say, "We have checked this company up and down with our lawyers, former Federal Trade Commission lawyers, and lawyers who worked with other direct sale schemes, and Michael Johnson and his team are pristine."

However, I think the far more important concern is that the U.S. market is not the engine here, so U.S. regulators cannot pull HLF down as much as Ackman needs it to go. He can't give enough money to senators and congressmen to shut it down. If he thought he could get a temporary restraining order against HLF, he would have tried already.

As always, I am not advocating that you buy or sell this stock. That's because the issue isn't HLF; it's the egos involved.

If, however, the issue ultimately becomes HLF, then the solution is an offshore one, which I think would work out just fine. Some earnings impairment from the U.S. operators, and then off to the races to play again.

Disclosures: Cramer's charitable trust has no positions in the stocks mentioned.
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