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Max Nisen

Herbalife Error not Much Help for Ackman

Its goof counting new members doesn't prove it's a pyramid scheme.

The storied and frequently entertaining history of cringe-inducing corporate data mistakes grew Thursday with Herbalife's disclosure, via contrite SEC filing, that it had overstated new customer growth by as much as 40 percent on conference calls. The company blamed "database scripting errors" for the issue.  

This would be embarrassing and worrisome for any company. But it is far more so for Herbalife, the subject of a protracted public crusade and short-selling campaign by Pershing Square CEO Bill Ackman. Shares were down about 7 percent on Thursday.