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Medifast sales surge past half a billion dollars in 2018

Medifast reported that sales of its nutrition and weight loss products surged 66 percent last year to $501 million, a new high for the Baltimore-based company.

The company also announced that earnings more than doubled to $55.8 million in 2018, up from $27.7 million on sales of $301.6 million in 2017. Earnings per share climbed to $2.19 last year from $1.44 a year earlier.

Despite the gains reported late Tuesday, Medifast shares slipped in Wednesday trading, down 2.7 percent to $128.70 each.

In the fourth quarter, Medifast earned $15.6 million, or 75 cents per share, up from $7.3 million, or 48 cents per share, a year earlier. Sales jumped by $50 million to $109.1 million.

"We are very pleased with our strong finish to 2018," Medifast CEO Dan Chard said in a statement. "We reached a significant corporate milestone generating over $500 million in annual revenue and profitability exceeded our expectations."

Medifast attributed the gains to the success of its Optavia-branded products sold through a network of coaches. The total number of active earning coaches increased to 24,100 in the latest quarter, compared to 15,000 a year earlier.

Medifast plans to expand into Hong Kong and Singapore in 2019.

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