The Collected Chatroom Works of Whole Foods' Bard - TheStreet

The Collected Chatroom Works of Whole Foods' Bard

Anonymous posts as 'rahodeb' provide interesting insight into Whole Foods CEO John Mackey.
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John Mackey, CEO of

Whole Foods Market

(WFMI)

, is making headline news in the business world after admitting he had posted anonymously on Yahoo! Finance message boards for eight years.

We went through and collected over 100 of the best posts Mackey made under the name of rahodeb, an anagram of "Deborah," his wife's name.

The full selection can be found at

The Best Collected Works of John Mackey

on the Stockpickr blog. Below are a few of our favorite excerpts.

Over the years, other posters speculated about rahodeb's true identity.In a Nov. 9, 2005, post, Mackey poohed-poohed one favorite theory:

Oh yes, "the John Mackey identity theory". I've heard it a few times before on this Board. Believe it if you wish since it enhances the value of what I write.

Mackey, ironically, always speculated about other posters' motives, often referring to "the short agenda." In a Dec. 9, 1999, post, he wrote:

It is curious how the number of posts on this board dries up when the stock is going up and the company is doing well. I think it reflects the number of shorts who work this bulletin board with rumors, misleading statements, and outright lies to try to drive the stock down. I wonder if most of them are covering their shorts with the stock's recent rise or whether they are just lying low for a while .... Some of these shorts must be getting squeezed at this point To watch Brittany Umar's video take of this column, click here .

And in a July 3, 2006, post:

One thing I've enjoyed about this Board is watching the shorts come and go every year. They come on to this Board making highly arrogant and "original" proclamations that this is just a stupid grocery store which is ridiculously overvalued and is going to get its comeuppance very, very soon. How many shorts have the long-term participants on this Board watched disappear every year with large losses on their shorts? Several hundreds now. Surely we must be getting close to a thousand or so by now. This current batch of shorts (with one or two exceptions) won't be here a year from now. They will have disappeared. However, new shorts will take their place (for the shorts we will always have with us) and they will say the same stupid and unoriginal things that their predecessors said before them, believing themselves to be both original and brilliant. There is nothing we can do, but regularly flush out the old shorts from the ignore button and replace them with the current crop. Meanwhile, Whole Foods will keep doing its thing -- producing unmatched same store sales growth and continue its irresistable growth, driving the stock price up and the shorts off of the Board.

Mackey also regularly disparaged competitors, especially

Wild Oats

(WFMI)

. From Oct. 30, 2000:

Fundamentals ultimately drive stock prices and OATS fundamentals are simply awful. ... OATS shouldn't sell at more than 10 X 2001 earnings. This is a $3.00stock. The only thing keeping it above this is buy-out speculation. Once the market figures out that WFMI isn't going to buy this company, it's headed to $3.00 -- or less.

From March 31, 2005:

OATS is greatly overvalued. PE for Whole Foods is 47. The PE for OATS is infinite! OATS has never made a dime over its collective history. It lost money in 2004. It is going to lose money in 2005 and for the foreseeable future. It doesn't have a viable business model that can compete. Time will prove what I am saying is correct and the stock will inevitably follow a downward trajectory as the Market comes to realize that no one is going to buy OATS and bail out them out of their countless mistakes.

While Mackey disparaged Wild Oats fundamentals, he also discussed merger opportunities. Consider this, from an Aug. 15, 2000, post:

Who would want to buy OATS? Surely no convention supermarket chain would. A bunch of small stores with low sales volumes and negative comp. sales. Remember most supermarket chains are unionized. No way the unions are goingto let OATS stay non-union if bought by a conventional operator. $20 a share?! Highly dilutive for any conventional chain. WFMI is the only logical buyer for this company and I can't see it happening anytime soon. Why would WFMI want to take on all the OATS problems?

It's amazing that the myriad duties of a CEO allowed Mackey to find time to troll the message boards at all. He asked one of his detractors in a Feb. 18, 1999, post: "Why are you on this board if you think WFMI management are a bunch of idiots? Don't you have anything better to do with your time?"

Ouch.

And in a Sept. 14, 2005, post, he defended his amateur status:

Where do you come up with the crazy idea that I'm a paid poster? I spend about 15 minutes a day on this Board 2 or 3 days a week -- less than an hour a week. What other Boards do I post on? OATS once a month maybe. I guess since you are incapable of intelligently arguing against my positions you are restricted to making things up and calling me names. O.k. do it, if it makes you happy.

Mackey also took to defending himself and his performance as CEO on the boards. In one post, from April 28, 2000, however, the defense was all about his personal appearance, particularly his hairstyle:

I like Mackey's haircut. I think he looks cute!If his hair bothers you now you should have seenwhat it looked like 10 years ago! The guy was/isclearly into alternative lifestyles and is one of PaulRay's Cultural Creatives I outlined in my 2 posts toHedge. You must not patronize any of WFMI'sstores. Tatoos, piercings, unusual dress, and interestinghaircuts are everywhere in the stores. In comparison,Mackey looks like a model for Brooks Brothers!

Mackey ended his run as rahodeb on Aug. 12, 2006. In his final post that day he wrote:

This will be my final message on this bulletin board as I have lost my bet with hubris12000. Congratulations hubris! You win. I lose. I will honor the terms of our bet. The learning from this bet is to never underestimate the manic/depressive nature of Mr. Market. Whole Foods had a very strong quarter with same store sales up 9.9% on top of a 15.2% increase last year -- phenomenal results. In addition EPS were up 27% over last year and the company beat earnings estimates by 3 cents. However, Mr. Market hit the panic button and the stock has crashed, down almost 40% from its high of just a few months ago. Whole Foods itself has a very bright future and I will continue to hold my stock for a very long time -- until the growth begins to significantly slow. I've enjoyed my 8 years on this Board, but all things must come to an end. I wish everyone the very best. Hog152 -- keep the faith. liberfar -- good luck with your market timing game. hubris12000 -- take your profits while you can, Whole Foods remains very strong and the stock will show continued strong growth over the long-term. Surgeon General and Boston Cowboy -- you were both right about my true identity all along. Congratulations on your cleverness. Take care everyone. Goodbye.

To read the full selection, check out

The Best Collected Works of John Mackey

on Stockpickr blog.

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