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Mannatech

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Mannatech Inc.
Public
Traded asNASDAQMTEX
Industry
FoundedNovember 4, 1993 (1993-11-04) in CoppellTexas, U.S.
FounderSamuel Caster
HeadquartersFlower Mound, Texas, US
Key people
RevenueDecrease US$ 176.696 million (2017)[1]
Increase US$ 2.519 thousand (2017)[1]
Decrease US$ -1.787 million (2017)[1]
Total assetsIncrease US$ 76.242 million (2017)[1]
Total equityIncrease US$ 40.241 million (2017)[1]
Number of employees
252 (Dec 2017)[1]
Websitewww.mannatech.com

Mannatech is a multinational multi-level marketing firm that sells dietary supplements and personal care products, with a history of false claims and lawsuits. It was founded in November 1993 by Samuel Caster and is headquartered in Flower Mound, Texas.[2] The company's stock is traded on the NASDAQ exchange under the symbol MTEX. As of 2017, Mannatech employed 252 people and sold its products through some 220,000 independent sales associates.[1]

Mannatech and its salespeople made false claims of anti-disease benefits about its lead product called "Ambrotose" which contains sugars derived from plants.[3][4][5] The company was profitable soon after its founding until about 2008, when it started losing money due to exposure of its business practices through a class action lawsuit based on the false health claims, a critical 20/20 news special, and a civil suit filed by the Attorney General of Texas.

History

Mannatech was founded by Samuel Caster in 1993, as Congress prepared to pass the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994, which made feasible the profitable marketing of a wider spectrum of dietary supplements.[6] The company has had a Christian orientation since its founding; the name was intended to evoke manna, and it recruited people to sell its products through its multi-level marketing structure in church congregations.[7] Prior to founding Mannatech, Caster had founded and run Eagle Shield, an insulation manufacturer, and Electracat, a pest control device; both were categorized as a hoax by the Texas Attorney General's office.[8][9]

Mannatech was founded to sell dietary supplements and personal care products. Before developing its own products, the company sold Manapol, an aloe vera extract made by another company.[10] Its most widely known product has been Ambrotose, a dietary supplement made from sugars derived from plants.[11]

From 1993 to 2009, Rafael Cruz, father of presidential candidate Ted Cruz, was a top salesman for Mannatech.[7][12]

Mannatech had its initial public offering (IPO) on February 16, 1999, at $8 a share. The stock price settled a few weeks later at a price of $15.13 a share and a market capitalization of $366 million. The IPO raised $12 million in funds to be used for expansion into Australia and the U.K.[13]

False claims and lawsuits

The company came to be known for unproven claims that its products could be used to treat many diseases and conditions, including cancer, diabetes, autism and AIDS.[14][15] There is no evidence that any of these claims were or are true.[3][4][5][16][17][18][19][20]

In May 2005 an article was published in Barron's questioning the company's business practices.[21][22] In September 2005, a class-action lawsuit was filed against Mannatech for alleged violations of the Securities Exchange Act; it was prompted by the Barron's article.[21][23]

In 2006, Mannatech distributor Vivienne Balonwu, a U.K. general practitioner, was found by the U.K. General Medical Council panel to have "abused her power as a doctor" after it was determined that she had illegally promoted and sold the company's products to people as a treatment for medical conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and stroke-related complications. Following patient complaints about her marketing of the products in 2006, Balonwu was dismissed by her employer, Harmoni, a medical services company, and the GMC panel imposed a 15-month penalty period during which she was "to avoid private or short term locum work" and "to complete a supervised personal development plan to tackle shortcomings in her practice".[24]

Also in 2006, Mannatech was named #5 on Forbes’ list of America's 200 Best Small Companies.[25][26] At the same time, the company came under investigation by the Texas Attorney General in October 2006 for alleged violations of that state's Deceptive Trade Practices Act.[27] In July 2006, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott formally charged Mannatech, MannaRelief, Sam Caster, and Reginald McDaniel, the company's medical director, with operating an illegal marketing scheme in violation of state law.[28][29]

A 20/20 undercover investigation that aired June 1, 2007 on ABC Television showed Mannatech's sales associates teaching sales recruits how to target Mannatech products to people with specific illnesses in a manner that purportedly does not violate U.S. federal law, including U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulations, by avoiding direct claims that the products cure any particular diseases.[16]

In August 2007, Caster resigned as CEO of Mannatech.[30] In October 2007, it was reported that the company had fired Grant Thornton LLP as its auditor after the accounting firm demanded that Mannatech remove Caster from all responsibilities[30][31] to be replaced by Wayne Badovinus as the new chief executive. Several corporate initiatives were undertaken, but after 17 months on the job Badovinus resigned in December 2009.[32] Another member of the board resigned shortly after.[33] Mannatech's Chief Science Officer Robert Sinnott and Mannatech's chief financial officer Steve Fenstermacher were named Co-CEOs.[34] Fenstermacher later resigned.[35]

Publicity over the company's lawsuits began to damage the balance sheets and stock performance.[32] After profits of $32 million in 2006 and $6.6 million in 2007, Mannatech reported a $12.6 million loss in 2008 and a $17.3 million loss in 2009.[36]

Mannatech settled the civil complaint with the State of Texas in February 2009; Mannatech did not admit wrongdoing but agreed to pay $4 million in restitution to clients who purchased products and $2 million to the state to cover its costs in the case. In addition, Sam Caster agreed to pay a $1 million civil penalty and steer clear of any type of leadership position or employment relationship with Mannatech for five years.[37][38][39]

In March 2008, Mannatech settled the class-action lawsuit by agreeing to pay $11.25 million to the plaintiff class. As part of the settlement, Mannatech admitted no wrongdoing.[21]

2010 losses were $10.6 million.[40] As the company's market capitalizations continued to fall, S&P Indices dropped it from the S&P 600 Index, stating "They are no longer representative of the small cap market space."[41] Recruiting efforts continued dropping in 2011, widening company losses to $20.6 million.[42] For 2012, the company's net loss narrowed to around $1 million from the about $21 million loss the year before.[43] In 2013, it had around $3 million in net income, and in 2014, it reported profits of $6.5 million and total revenue of $190.1 million.[44]

In November 2017, Mannatech received an FDA warning letter for illegally marketing several of its supplement products as medicinal agents and for selling adulterated and misbranded products in violation of Title 21 of the Code of Federal Regulations and Good Manufacturing Practice regulations for dietary supplements.[45] In December 2017, Mannatech reached an agreement with the Town Council of Flower Mound, Texas, to relocate its headquarters to an existing facility in the city.[2]

Ben Carson

Starting in 2004, neurosurgeon and conservative politician Ben Carson made videos and spoke at company events promoting Mannatech and its products. In 2004, in a speech at a Mannatech event, he credited the company's products with the disappearance of his cancer symptoms.[44][46][47]

Carson's image still appeared on the Mannatech's website in 2014,[46] and in the same year he praised their "glyconutrient" supplements in a PBS special (The Missing Link – The Science of Brain Health), sponsored by a group of Mannatech distributors, that was subsequently featured on the site.[48] During the CNBC GOP debate on October 28, 2015, Carson was asked about his relationship with Mannatech and denied any involvement with the company.[49] Politifact rated Carson's denial of any involvement as "false".[50] In November 2015, Mannatech said on its website that, for compliance with Federal campaign finance regulations, the company had removed all references to Carson before he announced his bid for the presidency.[51]

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Mannatech / United States Securities and Exchange Commission Form 10-K". United States Securities and Exchange Commission. Retrieved May 22, 2016.
  2. ^ a b Pry, Lyn Rejahl (December 5, 2017). "Flower Mound approves agreement with Mannatech for new HQ". The Cross Timbers Gazette. Retrieved 2018-10-20.
  3. ^ a b "Glyconutrients". Memorial Sloan–Kettering Cancer Center. November 23, 2015. Retrieved August 22, 2017.
  4. ^ a b Torok CB, Murray TH (2008). "Wielding the sword of professional ethics against misleading dietary supplement claims". Glycobiology. 18 (9): 660–663. doi:10.1093/glycob/cwn060.
  5. ^ a b Jocelyn Kaiser (2007). "Who Owns Glycobiology?". Science. 318 (5851): 734–737. doi:10.1126/science.318.5851.734. PMID 17975043.
  6. ^ Geraghty, Jim (January 12, 2015). "Ben Carson's Troubling Connection". National Review. Retrieved October 30, 2015.
  7. ^ a b Twohey, Megan (April 29, 2016). "Ted Cruz's Father Worked With Supplements Maker Sued by Investors". The New York Times. Retrieved April 30, 2016.
  8. ^ Lieber, Dave (November 23, 2013). "Mannatech founder, banned from company, still works from inside". Dallas Morning News. Retrieved March 3, 2014.
  9. ^ Brammer, Rhonda (May 9, 2005). "Manna From Texas". Barron's. Dow Jones & Company. Retrieved 2018-05-26. (Subscription required (help)).
  10. ^ McGill, Adam (2006-10-18). "Re: Mannatech". D Magazine. Retrieved 2018-10-20.
  11. ^ Mannatech, Incorporated (March 16, 2006). "Form Mannatech, Incorporated: 10K SEC Public Filing for FY 2005". United States Securities and Exchange Commission. Retrieved May 23, 2010.
  12. ^ Dubose, Lou; Harper, Hannah (October 19, 2015). "Ted Cruz's dad has a very sketchy resume: Rafael Cruz's credentials are exaggerated, at best". Salon. Retrieved April 30, 2016.
  13. ^ Weil, Jonathan (February 24, 1999). "Mannatech, a Hot IPO Last Week, Now Leaves Some Analysts Cold". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2018-10-20.
  14. ^ Danny Robbins (September 10, 2006). "Nobel Prize winners say sites falsely cite research". Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Archived from the original on 2006-12-06.
  15. ^ Sataline, Suzanne (May 11, 2007). "Health Claims by Sales Force Boost Supplement Firm; Mannatech's Products Attract the Gravely Ill; Disclaimers on Labels". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved July 8, 2007.(subscription required)
  16. ^ a b Avila, Jim; Martz, Geoff; Paparella, Andrew (June 1, 2007). "Cure for Your Disease or Empty Promise?". Yahoo!-ABC News Network. ABC News Internet Ventures. Retrieved July 8, 2007.
  17. ^ Schnaar RL, Freeze HH (2008). "A 'Glyconutrient Sham'" (PDF). Glycobiology. 18 (9): 652–657. doi:10.1093/glycob/cwm098. PMID 17855741. open access publication – free to read
  18. ^ Schnaar, Ronald L; Freeze, Hudson H (2017). "A "Glyconutrient Sham" and the Jenner Glycobiology and Medicine Symposium". Glycobiology. 27 (5): 383–384. doi:10.1093/glycob/cwx024. ISSN 0959-6658.
  19. ^ "Bounceback by Mannatech". Truth in Advertising. December 7, 2017. Retrieved June 22, 2018.
  20. ^ Schultz, Hank (November 28, 2017). "Mannatech sales slide; warning letter questions meaning of 'glyconutrients'". NutraIngredients. Retrieved June 22, 2018.
  21. ^ a b c Caulfield, Christine (March 21, 2008). "Mannatech Settles Investors' Suit For $11M". Law360. Retrieved June 22, 2018.
  22. ^ Brammer, Rhonda (May 9, 2005). "Manna From Texas". Barron's. Retrieved June 22, 2018.
  23. ^ "Case Page: Mannatech, Inc. Securities Litigation". Securities Class Action Clearinghouse. Retrieved 22 June 2018.
  24. ^ Dyer, Owen (March 29, 2008). "GP advised patients to take pills made by company she worked for". BMJ. 336 (7646): 689. doi:10.1136/bmj.39532.350729.DB. PMC 2276256. PMID 18369218.
  25. ^ Gage, Jack (2006-10-13). "America's 200 Best Small Companies". Forbes. Retrieved 2018-10-20.
  26. ^ "The 200 Best Small Companies: #5 Mannatech". Forbes. 2006-10-12. Retrieved 2018-10-20.
  27. ^ Greenberg, Herb (October 27, 2006). "Texas Attorney General probing Mannatech". MarketWatch, Inc. Retrieved July 8, 2007.
  28. ^ "State of Texas v. Mannatech et al" (PDF). July 5, 2007. Retrieved January 29, 2015.
  29. ^ "Texas Attorney General Charges Mannatech with Unlawful, Misleading Sales Practices". Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott. July 5, 2007. Retrieved July 8, 2007.
  30. ^ a b Sataline S (August 22, 2007). "Caster Resigns as CEO of Mannatech". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved April 6, 2008.
  31. ^ Sataline S (October 19, 2007). "Mannatech Fires Its Auditor Amid Dispute Over Founder". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved April 6, 2008.(subscription required)
  32. ^ a b Roberson, Jason (December 4, 2009). "Mannatech CEO quits after 17 months on the job". Dallas Morning News. Retrieved December 27, 2009.
  33. ^ "Mannatech Announces Board Resignation (press release)". Bloomberg. December 24, 2009. Archived from the original on May 2, 2014. Retrieved December 27, 2009.
  34. ^ Blitzer, David M. (December 3, 2009). "Mannatech (MTEX) CEO Badovinus Resigns". StreetInsider.com. Retrieved November 28, 2010.
  35. ^ "Mannatech announces the resignation of co-CEO, CFO Stephen Fenstermacher". Theflyonthewall.com. Yahoo Finance. December 16, 2011. Retrieved May 21, 2012.
  36. ^ Panchuk, Kerri (August 4, 2010). "Mannatech's profit narrows net loss, sales decline". Dallas Business Journal. Retrieved August 12, 2010.
  37. ^ Roberson, Jason (February 26, 2009). "Mannatech, former CEO settle with state". Dallas Morning News. Archived from the original on February 28, 2009. Retrieved February 26, 2009.
  38. ^ "Mannatech Settles with Attorney General". Dallas Business Journal. February 26, 2009. Retrieved February 26, 2009.
  39. ^ "Texas Attorney General Abbott Reaches Agreement To Halt Deceptive Trade Practices". Attorney General of Texas Greg Abbott. February 26, 2009. Retrieved August 31, 2013.
  40. ^ "Mannatech Inc 2010 Annual Report - Form 10-K". EDGAR. U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. March 10, 2011. p. 34. Retrieved May 15, 2012.
  41. ^ Blitzer, David M. (November 26, 2010). "Standard & Poor's Announces Changes to U.S. Index (press release)". The McGraw Hill Companies. Archived from the original (PDF) on April 2, 2015. Retrieved November 26, 2010.
  42. ^ Press Release (March 28, 2012). "Mannatech Reports Fourth Quarter And Year End Results". Business Wire. Retrieved April 1, 2012.
  43. ^ "Mannatech Form 10k For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2012". SEC Edgar. p. 37.
  44. ^ a b Maremont, Mark (2015-10-05). "Ben Carson Has Had Ties to Dietary Supplement Firm That Faced Legal Challenge". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 2018-10-20.
  45. ^ Garcia, Edmundo Jr. (November 14, 2017). "FDA Warning Letter to Mannatech, Inc". U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Retrieved June 22, 2018.
  46. ^ a b Grabow, Chip (October 30, 2015). "Ben Carson had extensive relationship to Mannatech". CNN. Retrieved 2018-06-23.
  47. ^ Jim, Geraghty (January 16, 2015). "Carson to Newsmax: 'I Didn't Know Anything About all [Mannatech's] Legal Stuff.'". National Review. Retrieved January 24, 2015.
  48. ^ Geraghty, Jim (January 12, 2015). "Ben Carson's Troubling Connection". National Review. Retrieved November 2, 2015.
  49. ^ Ford, Matt (October 29, 2015). "Ben Carson's Mannatech Problem". The Atlantic. Retrieved October 31, 2015.
  50. ^ Lauren Carroll (October 29, 2015). "At debate, Ben Carson says he has no connection to Mannatech". Politifact. Retrieved October 30, 2015. As far as we can tell, Carson was not a paid employee or official endorser of the product. However, his claim suggests he has no ties to Mannatech whatsoever. In reality, he got paid to deliver speeches to Mannatech and appeared in promotional videos, and he consistently delivered glowing reviews of the nutritional supplements.
  51. ^ "Mannatech's Response to Question at GOP Presidential Debate". Mannatech website. November 3, 2015. Retrieved November 9, 2015.

External links