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Maven: Straight Talk

But let's also not miss an opportunity to look at the funny in business.

The Business Press Maven calls this form of press release "The Bart Simpson," because after noting dryly that the SEC hauled off everything but the kitchen sink and first born of the CFO, it usually reads like one of Bart's favorite lines:

"I didn't do it, no one saw me, can't prove it."

While there is no way to enshrine into law that companies must form a capella groups to set every suspicious mention in official filings to song in the public square, Mr. Shay's general suspicions in such cases are seconded by The Business Press Maven.

Incidentally, a China Natural Resources release did hit up on the wires on Feb. 16. It said that the Nasdaq apparently considers the company's recent acquisition a reverse merger and, due to the failure of the company to file the right post-acquisition papers, will delist it. The company said in the release that it would appeal.

Mr. Shay's contention is that companies should beat the drums right away and broadly about such news. His point is well taken, but goes a little too far: A company shouldn't have to swing from the chandeliers, though if they appear overly circumspect, investors should probably beware. In this case, China Natural's release on the 16th, carrying news of the delisting, was too little, too late.

The Numbers Game

Although The Business Press Maven referenced our sharpshooting vice president up top, Enron's courtroom drama reinforces the point that if there is much discrepancy between strangeness in the filings and public silence on the matter, investors should see the writing on the wall -- which says, "Run dummy, run."

Bethany McLean of Fortune Magazine, one of the few business journalists who has written filings, let alone read them (she worked at Goldman Sachs before Fortune), gave Enron its first public lancing by highlighting opaqueness in the filings and silence in public.

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