1.) Vornado's JCP Tornado
Look, Dumbest Fans, as we've said numerous times since he started demolishing J.C. Penney (JCP) less than two years ago, we are tired of writing about Ron Johnson. We're not sure what happened, but somewhere along the line, the superstar CEO turned Penney's pillager hijacked our column.
Give us some slack though. What else can we do? The guy is like Wall Street's version of Gilligan -- every week he's an island of stupidity unto himself.
With that in mind, we're taking a different approach to Ron's ridiculousness this week.We won't focus on his embarrassing testimony last Friday at the Martha Stewart trial. (Or should we say, The Martha Stewart Trial Part II: Macy's Revenge.) For example, we won't highlight Ron's laughable assertion that he did not mean for Martha to "break" her Macy's contract, despite his saying in an internal e-mail that "We need to find a way to break the renewal right." Nor will we highlight former Penney's CEO Allen Questrom's rant on CNBC Wednesday about Ron not being "a reliable source". "You can't say you're going to make your numbers for the year and then drop a billion dollars and four billion dollars later in sales. So if they think it's going to all of a sudden turn around, there's no way they can have any reliable information because Ron is not a source for that," vented Questrom while calling for Johnson's ouster. Nope. As much as we enjoyed Allen's outburst, that's all we'll say on that subject. The episode we think best sums-up Johnson's hijinks this week was Penney's board member Steven Roth's decision to puke up 10 million shares of the retailer held by Vornado Realty Trust (VNO) on Tuesday for $16.03 apiece. Penney shares plunged 10.6% on news of Roth's repudiation of Johnson's strategy, sending the stock below $15 to lows last seen four years ago. And as far as we know, Johnson-backer Bill Ackman didn't scoop up any of Roth's outpouring. We are also unaware of any plans for the Pershing Square billionaire to buy the other 13.4 million shares Vornado still owns when it can start selling again on March 11th. That said, we highly doubt Bill is in the market for any more Penney's stock considering he's got 39 million shares of the dreck at last check. So all in all, we don't know how Ackman will react to Roth's rash act. (We also hope Johnson and Ackman remain buddies if, in fact, Penney's board finally decides to fire Ron. Judging from the Vanity Fair article about Ackman's Herbalife escapades, Bill needs all the friends he can get. Heck, even Dick Fuld is more popular than Ackman and he hasn't been seen in years.) We do, however, know how Fitch reacted to Vornado's block sale. The ratings agency cheered Roth's maneuver, calling it a "credit positive" for the REIT. "We believe the willingness to dispose of the shares and crystalize a sizable loss is more meaningful than the impact on metrics itself; it is indicative of a true commitment to strategy simplification," lauded Fitch. Wait a second. That gives us an idea. Maybe if we stop writing about Ron Johnson then Fitch will give the Five Dumbest Lab an upgrade too. Of course, if only he would let us. Follow @5gsonthestreet -- Written by Gregg Greenberg in New York City
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