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Greenberg: Where are the Cops?

07/11/14 - 12:25 PM EDT

The halt in CYNK Technology points up the inaction on Lumber Liquidators and the heavy put options trading on other stocks.

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Greenberg: No Surprise in Potbelly's Flop

07/09/14 - 06:24 PM EDT

Potbelly was one of those disasters you could see coming. Ever since its IPO, its stock has done little more than head lower, and for good reason.

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Greenberg: What Ails the Container Store?

07/09/14 - 12:55 PM EDT

The Container Store is finding out that a publicly traded retailer has to balance investors' needs with protection of the company's special character.

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Greenberg: Maybe It Wasn't the Weather, After All?

07/08/14 - 06:40 PM EDT

In the recent quarter or two, companies -- especially retailers -- blamed the weather for dismal performance. But on Tuesday, retailers had to blame something else.

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Greenberg: A Reminder That Fraud Is Alive and Well

07/07/14 - 01:39 PM EDT

It's rare that a company confesses to creating a fiction, but that's exactly what has happened in recent days in the bizarre tale of Let's Gowex.

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Greenberg: CBI's 'The Shorts are Conflicted' Strategy

06/18/14 - 02:01 PM EDT

Disclosure: I've done zero work, and have no intentions to do any work, on Chicago Bridge & Iron CBI, which was the focus of an accounting takedown by Prescience Point Research Group.But I do have a take on CBI's response -- and I wouldn't be saying anything if it wasn't for the nature of its response.Not this part:CB&I has reviewed the report and strongly disagrees with its assumptions and conclusions.But this part:Notably, the report warns readers to assume that the short-selling firm and/or its affiliates hold short positions in CB&I common stock and that they stand to realize significant gains in the event that CB&I's stock price declines. CB&I believes that this conflict of interest should cause the report and its conclusions to be viewed skeptically.To which I say: Of course they're conflicted -- but no more or less conflicted than somebody own owns the stock. Prescience Point, which says it spoke with the company twice during its research, discloses that it's short at the top of its report.This ridiculous concept of trying to deflect critical commentary because the author is short is feeble, amateurish and, well, absurd, unless the company also criticizes bullish reports by analysts who it believes are conflicted because they own the stock.Reality: Everybody, if they own or short a stock, is conflicted. Everybody talks their book. That's Wall Street.

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Greenberg: The Tesla-izing of SolarCity?

06/17/14 - 05:31 PM EDT

If all else fails, or at least the stock isn't sizzling the way it should be, change the story. That's the moral of SolarCity, with news that it's planning to acquire Silevo, an unknown maker of high-efficient solar panels. The deal, in SolarCity's words, will make it the "most vertically integrated solar company in the world." We can slice it and dice it any way we want, but to Reality Check the most striking part of the the deal was the role Elon Musk, SolarCity's chairman: He opened the call and pretty much ended it. Until now, he has has been much more of a silent partner at a company run by his cousins, Lyndon and Peter Rive. The obvious question: Why do this deal?

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Greenberg: Valeant Claims Critics Use ‘Wrong Assumptions’

06/13/14 - 07:42 AM EDT

In a letter to employees filed with the SEC Thursday, Valeant Pharmaceuticals' CEO Michael Pearson claimed critics are using “the wrong assumptions” as they analyze the company.Wrong assumptions. Really? That’s like a company telling a reporter or analyst, who pushes too hard, that they’re asking the “wrong” questions. (Which, in general, usually means they're the right questions.)From the letter:"Our actions have generated a lot of attention from the media, and we expect this transaction will continue to be the focus of many press reports. Unfortunately, some of these reports have criticized our overall business model and raised questions about our approach to R&D. We disagree with these criticisms and they are often based upon wrong assumptions, and we have been setting the record straight with facts about our operating model and the performance of our businesses."

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Greenberg: Science May Not Support Boulder Brands' Gluten Claims

06/12/14 - 02:09 PM EDT

I totally missed this story when it first came out in May, but it's just as relevant today -- even more so with the surge in shares of Boulder Brands BDBD, a gluten-free play: The doctor behind the gluten-free craze says he was wrong.Dr. Peter Gibson's reversal has been widely reported in a variety of publications, including Real Clear Science, the New Yorker and even on Good Morning America.But you wouldn't know it by the stock-goosing comments of Boulder Brands' CEO Stephen Hughes, at a William Blair conference earlier this week. Boulder owns a number of leading gluten-free brands, including Udi's and Glutino.In his presentation, speaking of gluten, he said:"So the reality is, this is one of those ingredients that we screwed around with. We hybridized wheat to make it more glutinous, so you could make bread faster, cheaper, better. Gluten is glue in Latin, and what we created was something that did make better bread, did make cheaper bread, but it's very hard to digest and it creates a lot of unintended consequences."

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Greenberg: United 'One Sick Bird'

06/09/14 - 10:46 AM EDT

The "One Sick Bird" in that headline, regarding United Continental Holdings, is straight out of a headline in today's Wall Street Journal, which refers to the airline as "one sick bird."I fly United monthly from San Diego to New York. I have Gold status. I generally sit in first class, which means I should see the airline at its best.What I see is an airline that offers zero consistency in product, morale or service.And this is four years after the two airlines merged. Yet, as the Journal points out, they still haven't merged their fleets because they can't get the flight attendants to sign a new, joint contract. (Compare that with Delta, which somehow not only managed to rapidly merge two airlines, but do it swiftly and almost seamlessly.)In the Journal piece, United CEO Jeff Smisek, who hit my list of nominees last year for Worst CEO, put the blame everywhere but at his office. He said, notably:"Every hub has to earn its keep every day. Nothing is sacrosanct at any hub. We will make adjustments as are appropriate."

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Herb Greenberg is the editor of Herb Greenberg's Reality Check, a subscription newsletter designed to help investors better manage risk.

Greenberg has been a financial journalist for more than 30 years, working most recently as a senior stocks commentator on CNBC's business day programming and on CNBC.com. He was also co-president of Greenberg Meritz Research & Analytics. He is a former weekend investor columnist for The Wall Street Journal and a former senior columnist for MarketWatch.

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Prior to joining MarketWatch, Greenberg was senior columnist forTheStreet. He previously spent 10 years as the "Business Insider" columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle and nearly seven years asFortune magazine's monthly "Against the Grain" columnist. Before that, he was the New York financial correspondent for the Chicago Tribune and a financial reporter in its Chicago newsroom. Greenberg has held various positions at other media outlets including Crain's Chicago Business and the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

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