Oprah Winfrey's loss is Weight Watchers' gain

FILE - In this Oct. 17, 2016 file photo, Oprah Winfrey attends the world premiere of "BOO! A Madea Halloween" in Los Angeles. Weight Watchers stock is gaining Thursday, Dec. 22, after another weight loss announcement by Winfrey. The former talk show host, who owns a stake in Weight Watchers, said in a new ad that she lost more than 40 pounds on the plan while still being able to eat pasta and tacos. (Photo by John Salangsang/Invision/AP, File)

NEW YORK — Oprah Winfrey's loss is Weight Watchers' gain.

The former talk show host, who bought a nearly 10 percent stake in the weight loss company last year, sent shares soaring Thursday after saying in a new ad that she's lost more than 40 pounds on the plan, all while eating pasta and tacos.

Shedding pounds is Winfrey's financial gain as well as Weight Watchers.

The media mogul spent about $43.2 million in October 2015 for 6.4 million shares. On Thursday, that stake was worth about $77 million, as its shares rose 15 percent to $12.12 in early trading.

But even Oprah has been unable to outpace enormous changes in the weight loss market. Weight Watchers has been facing increasing competition from free apps and technology that tracks food intake and exercise. So far this year, shares of Weight Watchers International Inc. are down 50 percent.

Last week, the New York company announced a new plan that would give subscribers an Apple Watch if they pay $99 and $34.95 a month for 12 months.

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