Much better than I imagined. Beat earnings, raised guidance, and actually has a plan to improve and increase sales. Will be upgraded several times over the next week. 46% of the shares short and a great opportunity to join the ride up. Keep it in your radar.

ORSHAM, Pa. (AP) — NutriSystem Inc., an operator of weight-loss programs and fitness centers, said Tuesday its third-quarter profit and sales skyrocketed, easily beating Wall Street estimates.

NutriSystem earned $23.4 million, or 63 cents per share, compared with $7.2 million, or 19 cents per share, last year.

Revenue grew to $155.3 million compared with $64.5 million in the year-ago period.

Analysts polled by Thomson Financial, on average, expected a profit of 52 cents per share on $142.2 million in revenue.

Direct channel revenue was $143.5 million up from $57.7 million last year, and the company added 235,000 new customers, up from 115,000 a year earlier.

Looking ahead, NutriSystem said it expects fourth-quarter earnings of 45 cents to 48 cents per share, including 1 cent per share in stock-option expenses, on revenue of between $123 million and $128 million.

Analysts, on average, expect fourth-quarter earnings of 44 cents per share, on $120.9 million in revenue.

For the full year 2006, NutriSystem expects a profit of between $2.21 and $2.24 per share, including 9 cents per share in stock-option expenses, on revenue of $558 million to $563 million.

Analysts, on average, expect full-year profit of $2.09 per share on sales of $542.9 million.

“Our plans for 2007 include the introduction of a variety of new foods, a soon-to-be launched seniors marketing campaign and incessant focus on growing our women‘s and men’s business,” Michael J. Hagan, Chairman, president and CEO, said in a release.

Shares of NutriSystem added $1.30 to $69.28 in after-hours trading on the INET electronic stock exchange after gaining $1.05 to end at $67.98 on the Nasdaq.

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