The History Channel’s Memorial Day documentary, Washington the Warrior, features an all-Lithuanian cast of 1,500 re-enactors. This is possible because their scenes feature no dialogue.
Proof That Overseas Outsourcing Is Un-American
Coughing Up Earnings Guidance
From IR guru Kirk Brewer:
The current edition of The Economist takes the continuing debate over earnings guidance a couple of steps beyond the obvious.
The magazine … cites the NIRI study we highlighted previously as evidence that quarterly earnings is becoming less prevalent than it was in the late 1990s. But the publication also looks into the reasons why, and the impact on companies and investors.
“Behind this trend is the belief that quarterly guidance, coupled with a fixation on whether companies match their forecast earnings per share (EPS) to the last penny, does more harm than good. Critics of the practice, who include not only company bosses but also regulators, academics and investors (among them, Warren Buffett), think companies are pushed into making poor decisions or tinkering with numbers to make sure that they hit their short-term targets.”
Guidance has always been a fishy (as in, smelly) business, anyway. Back in the day, the conversation usually went like this:
Wall Street analyst: So, what are your earnings going to look like next quarter?
Company IR person: You know I can’t tell you that … but if you guess right, I’ll cough once, and if you guess wrong, I’ll cough twice.
Wall Street analyst: $1.35 per share.
Company IR person: Cough cough.
Wall Street analyst: Should I go higher or lower?
Company IR person: You know I can’t tell you that … but if you’re going in the right direction, there’ll be a long silence on my end of the phone.
Wall Street analyst: $1.45 per share.
Company IR person:
Wall Street analyst: Wow, it’s looking like a great quarter for you guys. $1.52 per share?
Company IR person: COUGH.
Wall Street analyst: Yes! That’s all I need. Take me to lunch next week?
Company IR person: You got it. Buh-bye.
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We Are Delighted to Report That CEO Communications Have Become Significantly More Candid and Conversational in an Effort to Better Serve You — NOT
It may be my imagination, but I think CEO Columns-R-Us may be going out of business. I’m seeing more and more CEO columns — both in print and online — that are willing to deal with real issues. I’m seeing CEOs tackle bad news head-on. I’ve actually seen a couple of CEO blogs that are conversational — rather than “corporate” — in tone.
Right — a couple. Hey, we’d like to think the author of the Corporate Hallucinations blog is not merely hallucinating, so we did a quick tour to find some CEO communications on the Web.
First, our methodology: We entered the term “CEO letter” in Google, and pulled excerpts from the first five letters that came back in the search results.
Here are those excerpts –
1. FEI Company.
While 2004 was a year of great accomplishments for FEI Company, we believe it is just a milestone in our growth as a leader in tools for nanotechnology. We are at the dawn of the nanotechnology era, and we are excited about our expanding array of opportunities in this globally competitive arena … FEI’s industry-leading tools are advancing nanotechnology across a range of markets. We are focused on the opportunities that come with our leadership, for the benefit of the industry and our shareholders.
At Genworth Financial, one of our core values is performance. But to us, it’s more than just performance. It’s performance with integrity … While each of us as individuals make ethical decisions, we share a collective responsibility to infuse integrity in all aspects of our business. That’s why our reputation for honest and reliable business conduct is tested and proven in each transaction we make … I encourage you to take a moment to review our integrity policy. Should you have any questions, please contact our Ombudsperson at 1-888-251-4332.
Welcome to Perficient, the leading independent information technology consulting firm in the central United States. At Perficient, we run our business by three simple rules:
(1) deliver world-class solutions for our clients, (2)provide great careers for our colleagues, and (3) build meaningful value for our shareholders. These principles (and a lot of hard work) have enabled Perficient to scale in just six years from startup to a $110 million revenue market leader … The best news is we’re just getting started.
Our commitment to having the best people and to providing the best service is not only our promise to our clients – it is a promise we make to ourselves … For the past 30 years, we have defined our success by our ability to impact the success of our clients. Our clients will always be a top priority. We value the professionalism, experience and knowledge that each Winstead team member brings to the firm, and we pride ourselves in maintaining a reputation that is collegial, team-oriented and, most importantly, results-driven.
At AAR, our goal is to be your preferred aerospace/aviation logistics and value-added products and services provider. To meet this goal, every member of our team is dedicated to the principle of applying creative thinking to your everyday support requirements. We constantly challenge ourselves to develop new capabilities, along with innovative products and programs that can help you improve performance and increase profitability. We are confident that by working together with AAR your goals of operational excellence and cost efficiency can become a reality.
OK, that’s the first five. Do you want to see five more?
We’ve been writing CEO letters for 13 years, so we know how hard it is to escape the easy trap of overused corporate language. And while a small number of CEOs are breaking out and taking more chances (this guy has always done it best), there is much more work to be done.
As for you, Steve: Go back to hallucinating. Do they have a 12-step program for that?
Warren Buffett Buys Business Wire; Does This Guy Know What He’s Doing?
The Oracle of Omaha has agreed to buy the No. 2 news-release distribution service (behind PR Newswire) at a price in the hundreds of millions. Business Wire apparently has been on the block for the past four years.
In making this acquisition of Business Wire, we have followed our blueprint of buying profitable companies that are industry leaders, yet have significant growth potential. A major criteria in all our investment decisions is evaluating corporate management. Business Wire’s experienced management team was key to our decision. We quickly realized that Business Wire was a gem of a company.
So, did Buffett make a good purchase? Media Orchard would obviously be a fool to question the man — but this has never stopped us before. And besides, Warren has admitted that his Achilles’ heel is anything to do with technology.
We love the folks at the local Business Wire office and currently recommend BW in many cases. Marqui provides an interesting comparative analysis of BW and PR Newswire, along with Market Wire and PrimeZone, here.
Any of these services will yield some benefits vs. not using anything at all. However, an organization should think carefully as to whether it makes sense to spend $500-$750 (minimum) to distribute something over the wire.
We agree. In particular, we’ve never been a fan of US1/National distribution — we think it’s lazy and often a waste of the client’s money.
But the larger question is: Will we need wire services at all in five years, or 10 years? Will a company like Business Wire be able to retain its competitive position in a world of RSS, news aggregators, free Internet news distribution services, and the like?
We’re not sure. But it’s far from a slam dunk.