Six months down. Six to go. This column historically grades itself and its sources at year-end. But, hey, do you
care that far from the fact? Do you care at all? I dunno, but for accountability's sake I care.
Not only does it keep me and my sources honest, but there's a moral to some of these stories, especially this year, thanks to tougher year-end audits and/or the inability of companies to hide from bloated inventories or botched business plans.
Classic examples, since January, include
no celebration -- delisted),
Family Golf Centers
(playing golf isn't as popular as watching it --
Just For Feet
(earnings got trampled,
lousy inventory controls),
not enough caution in the amount of surgical gloves -- its specialty -- put into the distribution channel),
(sad song --
surprising slowdown in earnings growth) and
deflated -- didn't sell as many airbeds as expected). Each one was a favorite of short-sellers, and each came apart with surprising speed. (A-pluses, all of them!)
This column also gets high marks for raising questions, starting last year, about
, a distributor of electronics products overseas. It received an incomplete in my last year-end report card. Funny what a difference a disclosure about
missed earnings coupled with an admission of forged documents can make. (Moral: Never pick a public fight with short-sellers, which is just what CHS' CEO did.)
Also at the head of the class:
Ashok Kumar, who correctly
revenue growth would slow, and money manager Jim Marquez, of
in Greenwich, for his A-plus prediction in
was ripe to rise (it has roughly doubled). Also high on his
list at the time:
(up 26%). Also:
Pioneer Natural Resources
(up 20%) and
, which he said would eventually get a takeover bid. It did, and now it's about 50% higher than when he first mentioned it. (Which goes to show that if you have passion about something, it can pay to go on the record.)
Speaking of which: Short-seller Marc Cohodes of
, no stranger to this column, finally gets an A-plus for predicting that
, a maker of PC hard disks, would get
flattened. (It did, stockwise and earningswise.) Ditto for Cohodes with
, which is roughly half of where it was six months ago,
Other columns worthy of the honor roll:
makes towels, and
distributes drugs to nursing homes. Both became very ill
they had already fallen in earlier plunges, proving that just because a company has already been hit by bad news doesn't mean it can't get hit even harder with worse news.
And this column deserves to be on the dean's list for mentioning
and its Internet spinoff,
Both are lower than where they were.
But this column gets failing marks, at least right now, for questioning
, which continues to defy the skeptics. And
Hibbett Sporting Goods
. (We could call both incompletes considering that short-sellers continue to whisper that they've got plenty of trouble.) And how about
, a fast-growing retailer of clothes for teenage girls? Hasn't budged since I
mentioned it. (Incomplete.) Other incompletes include
Lernout & Hauspie
(hello you unlovable
(the stock is down but there's certainly been
no funeral procession);
Pre-Paid Legal Services
(jury's still out on
Quite frankly, this is the lowest number of failures since I started this report card a decade ago. I had planned to give myself the worst possible failing marks for having the gall, earlier
this year, to question whether
was finally starting to lose its perk.
But Wednesday, after the market closed, the company did something very un-Starbucks-like: It reported that its fiscal 1999 earnings will miss analysts' estimates. Oops! Says one longtime Starbucks short, who was
short last night: "It's just a coffee company."
On that note, I'm sure there are plenty of others, especially failures, that I missed. If so,
let me know and I'll be more than happy to take the public humiliation.
Memo to the many readers who wonder when I'll be back on
: I won't, and thanks for watching. But you will get a chance to see me,
and a cast of (OK, not thousands, but quite a few)
new weekly show on the
Fox News Channel
starting July 17. (So, if your cable carrier doesn't carry
, tell 'em to get it and get it NOW!)
After all, the Fox is faster and slier than the Peacock.
Herb Greenberg writes daily for TheStreet.com. In keeping with TSC's editorial policy, he doesn't own or short individual stocks, though he owns stock in TheStreet.com. He also doesn't invest in hedge funds or other private investment partnerships. He welcomes your feedback at
email@example.com. Greenberg also writes a monthly column for Fortune.
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