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From the Hip With Expeditors' CEO

Peter Rose's lambasting of a Bear Stearns analyst is only the latest in a long history of colorful prose.
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The tart words aimed this week at a Bear Stearns analyst from the pages of an

Expeditors International

(EXPD) - Get Expeditors International of Washington Inc. Report

filing aren't the first instance of blunt prose in the annals of this company's corporate communication.

For years, Expeditor CEO Peter Rose has used the company's monthly 8-Ks as a forum to ruminate on everything from the literacy of the company's shareholders to the folly of economic prognosticators. He codified the philosophy in February, saying the reports are his place to "dispel the howlings of the inaccurate, the uninformed and possibly the malicious."

Herein, a collection of Rose's greatest hits, comprising for the most part, answers to questions asked by shareholders. The filings are archived on Expeditors' Web site.

On Fair Game:

"We mock questions on occasion when it is obvious that little effort, much less thought, went into crafting the query. It takes a great deal of effort to put this thing out and sometimes it is hard to find a rational question in the stuff we get.

"Not all questions received get answered, and we don't feel any obligation to disclose why we did or did not select any particular query. For instance, the next two questions you asked didn't make it."

On Perspicacity:

"Without wanting to appear overly harsh, this strikes us as a totally meaningless observation. We advise most people to stop reading right here. But we will give the question the answer it deserves."

"This is not a question we would ask, but we will answer it anyway. This is our way of saying that you are getting very accurate and, in our opinion, totally useless information. Since we just work here, we have no idea what use you, or anybody else for that matter, can make of it."

On Shelter:

"When you stop to think about it, you will realize that our people have to work somewhere. We can't become homeless 'bag forwarders' wandering the streets near airports pushing our computers around in shopping carts looking for places to 'dial in' to process shipments. Doesn't it also make sense that, since we are a global business, some of our locations will be in faraway locations?"

On Belles Lettres:

"We have to assume that you meant 2003, not 3002. If we are wrong in this assumption, our answer is simply 'Who cares?' Having said that, the answer for 2003 is 'Who knows' at this point. If we could accurately see that far ahead, we'd no doubt have your job."

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"To paraphrase Dear Abby, who apparently erroneously thought she was quoting Mark Twain, 'The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read.' If you had read the announcement, you would know how much we are authorized to repurchase."

On the Socratic Method:

"From the signature block in your email, we know that you are a medical doctor in real life. We're sure it is your medical training that encourages you to ask for a clarification in a straightforward manner when confronted with something you don't understand. This is in contrast to some other questions we get where it is obvious that someone is asking a question about the unknown in a manner that presupposes knowledge of the subject at hand.

"Medical doctors have learned to ask for clarification rather than making unsupported assumptions as to do otherwise might result in death or serious disfigurement for the customer -- their patient. In the financial world, rash assumptions on the basis of ignorance seem to be accepted practice as the only adverse consequence is the loss of someone else's money."

On the Law:

"The legal proceedings continue to move. Most of the time, they move forward but at other times they just shake from side to side. To this point, discovery has begun but remains at the preliminary (predeposition) stage.We could write more, but unfortunately it would do none of us any good."

On Staffing:

"Your comment regarding the ticker symbol did hit home. We looked and we agree that it was not there. This is a fairly obvious omission in retrospect and is something that you would have expected our investor relations professional to have caught. However, we never hired one and hope that the savings from this decision more than outweighs any damage we have suffered over the last eight years."

On Competition:

"It might come as a shock to some of our regular readers, but we do have some competitors that we respect. But please forgive us as we decline to endorse or even mention any of them in this forum. Believe it or not, we really don't like to talk about competitors.

"It isn't our job to educate the investing public about our competitors. If we tried, it probably wouldn't be fair to our competitors as we assume they know more about their business models than we do. If you want to know about our competitors, you'll need to ask them. If what they say makes sense, they probably know what they are talking about. If they make you feel confused or uncertain, we would guess they don't."

On the Grim Science:


Devil's Dictionary

describes hope as desire and expectation rolled into one and it has been said that economics is the only profession where people are trained to lose arguments with themselves. We actually look at this request for freight forwarders to offer feedback on the efforts of the chief economist of a major brokerage house as a sure sign that that apocalypse will shortly be upon us. We don't do endorsements for what we write, let alone endorse the writings of someone else. Further, if we did endorse the writing of a stranger, it would never be a strange economist.

"We have been around long enough to know that the economy will get better when the economy gets better. Oddly enough, prognostications by economists, much less freight forwarders, do not alter the process. Many people will make predictions about when the economy will 'turn.' Those who are correct will no doubt lack grace and remind the rest of us that they were right. Everyone else will say nothing, confident that none will recall what they said."

On Downsizing:

"In Wall Street vernacular, 'restructuring' is typically a code word for 'massive layoffs and redundancies' with a concomitant whole-scale purging and expunging of management's past mistakes. There seems to be some redeeming magic in a self-proclaimed 'one-time restructuring' that creates an explosion of optimism. The louder the explosion, the greater the cavalcade of the promises of future benefits. Sometimes, as we've seen, it's an explosion of smoke and sound accomplishing nothing, while at other extremes the restructuring can eliminate everything in sight. We are trying to avoid those misconceptions in connection with what we are doing in Europe."

On Self-Sufficiency:

"We have been asked several times to verify that our Chairman and CEO Peter Rose actually pays to park his car in our headquarters building -- which is 100% owned by Expeditors. The answer to the question is yes, Peter Rose pays for his own parking -- just as he pays his own utility bills and uses his own funds to buy clothes, groceries and his tickets to Seattle Thunderbirds hockey games. Frankly, it continues to amaze us that this would be viewed in any way as 'novel.'

"Call us na¿ve, but long before corporate governance became trendy, we just assumed that personal expenses should be paid for by personal funds and corporate expenses would be paid for with corporate funds. While we realize that many of the 'talking head' CEOs, whose names are mentioned in hushed tones on Wall Street and on university campuses, would find our philosophies rather provincial; we have always believed that mixing business and personal expenses causes a form of blindness that results in an inability to put the interests of the shareholders first."