Multi-level marketer Nu Skin Enterprises keeps itself busy exfoliating and polishing. It offers 200-plus personal care products, including cleansers, toners, and anti-aging skin care products, through a global network of some 850,000 independent distributors, sales reps, and preferred customers. It also sells cosmetics, fragrances, hair care items, and mouthwash. Nu Skin has its foot in the door in 50-plus global markets, including cherished China. Its Pharmanex unit sells LifePak nutritional supplements. Its Big Planet subsidiary offers personal and small-business technology and communications products, as well as Internet and long-distance services. Nu Skin was founded in 1984 by its Chairman Blake Roney.
Geographically diverse Nu Skin rings up more than 85% of its sales outside the US. Japan is the company's largest market accounting for more than 25% of sales. Greater China (including Taiwan and Hong Kong) is an important growth market for Nu Skin, accounting for nearly 20% of sales.
The company operates through two primary business segments: Nu Skin (55% of sales), its proprietary brand of anti-aging personal care products, including the ageLOC line of skin care and nutritional items; and Pharmanex, distributor of the LifePak brand and other nutritional supplements.
The company's sales increased more than 13% in 2011 vs. 2010, while net income rose nearly 13% over the same period. Sales of Pharmanex brand products rose 26% in 2011 vs. the prior year, outperforming the Nu Skin line (up 5.5%). The company credited the strong sales performance to sustained interest in its products, including ageLOC anti-aging potions, and growth of its independent distributor force, particularly in emerging markets such as China, South Asia, and Korea. Sales in Greater China, an emerging and important market for the company, rose by 27% in 2011 vs. 2010. The company credited the recent global launch of its ageLOC anti-aging line of products for much of the growth.
Nu Skin is betting on rapid growth in the global anti-aging market as Baby Boomers in the US and skin-obsessed women in Asia fuel demand for its products. Since entering China in 2003, the company has been expanding the number of provinces where it is authorized to do business. In April 2011 it won approval to begin direct sales in the provinces of Zhejiang, Guizhou, Sichuan, and Shandong, and in the city of Tianjin -- adding to existing approvals in Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangdong. Indeed, the company has big plans for the Chinese market, including tripling the number of stores and sale support centers there by 2017.
In 2009 Nu Skin added to its skin care portfolio by launching a product that targets the signs and sources of aging under the ageLOC brand name. It rolled out nutritional products under the ageLOC name in 2010. The stream of super-class age-fighters is fed by a scientific collaboration with Wisconsin-based LifeGen Technologies, a research company specializing in the genetic sources of aging. Nu Skin acquired LifeGen for $11.7 million in 2011. The deal looks to further strengthen Nu Skin's share of the global anti-aging market as well as its mighty but modest staff of in-house scientists, which have helped to keep the company on the forefront of skin care research. The firm has increased its spending on R&D in recent years from about $9.6 million in 2008 to $13.6 million in 2011. Nu Skin's pending acquisition of NOX Technologies, a deal inked in November 2012, will give the company a deeper understanding of the aging process through its arNOX age-related protein. Buying the Malvern, Pennsylvania-based biotechnology and biodiagnostic company for $12.5 billion brings onboard technology and patents, including those previously licensed and utilized in connection with Nu Skin's anti-aging research efforts.
Nu Skin in 2011 invested in its Utah headquarters by acquiring the building and a distribution center from founding stockholders for some $33 million. The move is part of the beauty company's development project in Provo.
FMR LLC owns nearly 13% of the company's shares, while Royce & Associates owns about 11%.