Herbalife, the weight management products and supplements marketer, reported fourth quarter net income of US$30.0m, or $0.41 per share, against a loss of $37.4m, or $0.68 a share, in the corresponding quarter last year, which had been hit by recapitalisation costs of $56m.

The company said sales in the fourth quarter had performed better than forecast and the effective tax rate had been lower.

Turnover for the quarter increased by 20% from $341.6 m to $409.0m. While fourth-quarter earnings were in line with analysts' estimates, turnover was ahead of market forecasts which had predicted sales in the region of $401.4m.

On a regional basis, the Americas showed net sales growth of 55.1%, while net sales in Asia Pacific grew by 11.6%. However, net sales declined both in Europe and Japan, by 5.1% and 5.2% respectively.

Michael O. Johnson, Herbalife's CEO, said: "We finished the year with another record quarter with strong sales growth and momentum in our key markets, and in local currency, all of our regions reported sales growth increases versus the same period last year for two consecutive quarters."

For the 2005 fiscal year, Herbalife posted net sales of $1.6bn, up 19.6% on the previous year, and net income of $93.1m, or $1.28 per diluted share, against a net loss of $14.3m, or $0.27 per diluted share, for 2004.

"As we reflect on 2005, we are excited about our record growth, our operating income margin expansion, the execution of our five key strategies, and the continued trust, confidence, and momentum within our distributor organisation," Johnson said.

The company is forecasting earnings of between $0.37 and $0.41 per share for the first quarter of 2006, and $1.80 to $1.85 for the full 2006 fiscal year.