Weight Watchers has posted flat full-year income as charges and start-up costs eat into the group's modest sales gains.

For fiscal 2008, Weight Watchers revenue increased by US$68.6m to $1.54bn, the company revealed today (5 March).

Net income for the 12 months ended 3 January totalled $2.04bn, slightly up on 2007's net income of $2.01bn. Income was hit by a UK value added tax charge of $26.5m and start-up costs for the group's Chinese joint venture of $2.2m. 

Full-year EPS totalled $2.6, up from earnings of $2.5 per share last year.

"Despite a difficult economic climate, an unfavorable UK VAT ruling and startup expense for the China joint venture, I am gratified that the company delivered significant year-over-year earnings per share growth," president and CEO David Kirchhoff said. 

"Further, when adjusting for the UK VAT ruling and China joint venture expense, the Company delivered full year 2008 results consistent with the guidance range established in February 2008."

Looking to next year, Weight Watchers provided full year 2009 earnings guidance of between $2.50 and $2.75.