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The 5 Dumbest Things on Wall Street This Week: May 24

5. Abercrombie's Airhead

Michael Jeffries may publicly state that his primary goal is selling the "cool kid" aspiration. Nevertheless, we here at the Dumbest Lab know what really drives the Abercrombie & Fitch (ANF) CEO, and it's more Tattoo from Fantasy Island than teen fantasy.

Yeah, you guessed it. The plane! The plane!

According to an SEC filing late last Thursday, Jeffries total compensation sank over 80% last year to $8.2 million from over $48 million. His base salary did inch up 2% to $1.53 million, however, he was not granted any long-term incentives tied to the retailer's stock in 2012. Hey, that's only fair. A&F's stock fell 35 basis points last year and 14% in 2011 while the SPDR S&P Retail ETF (XRT) rose nearly 21% and 10% respectively, so he shouldn't pocket the same handsome sums as he did in years past.

Still, while his overall package took a jarring drop, Jeffries did receive a $200,000 bump related to his use of the company aircraft. That boost certainly must have helped ease the pain of his pay reduction, because anybody that's followed the jet-setting CEO knows he likes his jet to be set precisely to his own princely standards.

For those that may have forgotten, Jeffries was deposed three years ago as part of a discrimination lawsuit by a pilot who claimed he was canned illegally and replaced by a younger man. The since-settled suit revealed Jeffries's wacky specifications for the airplane's flight attendants, from the way they address him to the kind of cologne they spritz on.


For example, Jeffries's detailed flight instructions command male staffers to wear Abercrombie polo shirts, flip-flops, a "spritz" of the firm's cologne, sunglasses and boxers. And when Jeffries makes a request, the reply must be "No problem" as opposed to "Just a minute" or "Sure."

He even has rules for displaying the toilet paper!

Talk about a load of crap. Who does this guy think he is? Mr. Rourke?

Anyway, outside of his upped airplane allowance, Jeffries also received an additional $107,227 last year for "personal security," according to the filing. And considering the increasing level of animosity he's been facing after the resurfacing of a controversial 2006 Salon interview, that stipend could not have come at a better time for the high-flying CEO.

Jeffries snottily told the interviewer at the time, "Candidly, we go after the cool kids. We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends . . . A lot of people don't belong [in our clothes], and they can't belong."

Those haughty comments from seven years ago came back to haunt Jeffries this past week when protestors went viral in condemning A&F for not offering women's clothing in larger sizes. The press got so bad that Jeffries was forced to apologize this week to stem the backlash.

"I sincerely regret that my choice of words was interpreted in a manner that has caused offense," said Jeffries in a statement. "We are completely opposed to any discrimination, bullying, derogatory characterizations or other anti-social behavior based on race, gender, body type or other individual characteristics."

Of course, he's still opposed to offering women's XL and XXL sizes at his stores. That policy hasn't fallen with his paycheck. Nor has his obnoxious attitude toward less-than-beautiful shoppers.

Come on Jeffries. Stop acting like a jerk.

Don't think you are above everybody else just because you fly around in a private plane.

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