medifast logo OWINGS MILLS, MD — Medifast Inc., a weight-loss and weight management service based in Owings Mills, saw increased earnings in the fourth quarter, up 6.6 percent.

During the fourth quarter of 2016, Medifast earned $4.1 million, or 35 cents per share, compared to $3.9 million during the same quarter a year ago, according to a Thursday earnings release

The results beat Wall Street estimates by a penny.

Chief Executive Officer Dan Chard said, “2016 was a year of strong execution reflecting our continued disciplined approach to effectively managing our business,” adding that the company “aggressively pursued growth strategies” during the year.

Chard recently joined Medifast in early October, leaving his role as president and chief operating officer at PartyLite Worldwide Inc., a candle and home decor retailer.

Revenue for one of Medifest’s weight-loss plans, Medifast Direct, decreased 26.8 percent during the quarter to $6.8 million.

Chard said during Thursday’s earnings call that the company expected lower income but hoped it would slow more than it did by the fourth quarter. He added the first two months of 2017 have shown growth.

Overall revenue increased 1.9 percent to $62.5 million during the quarter. Over the year, revenue rose to $274.5 from $272.8 the prior year, a 0.6 percent change.

Chard reported strong adoption of a new brand, Optavia, that led to inventory shortages going into the fourth quarter. Because of consequent losses, the company boosted its inventory at the end of the year to $18.3, up 37.3 percent from 2015.

The company’s stock price decreased by 1.0 percent to $43.38 on on Thursday, falling to $42.21 Friday.

This story is from the Maryland Business News Wire, a service of UNC-Chapel Hill’s School of Media and Journalism