1. Snow White and 72.5% of the DwarfsOne suspects that plenty of executives wouldn't win popularity contests among current and former employees. But for Disney's ( DIS) Michael Eisner, it's officially no longer a suspicion. After weeks of nosing around by disgruntled former Disney directors Stanley Gold and Roy Disney, we learned this week that when participants in Disney's 401(k) plan cast their votes last month, 72.5% of shares were voted against re-electing CEO Eisner to the board. We don't know how representative that number is of the sentiment among current and former Disney employees. The 9,400 401(k) participants who voted amount to only a fraction of Disney's 112,000 workforce, and we don't know how many of the voters are current Disney employees as opposed to former ones. Whatever. Some folks think 72.5% is a big deal, because the withhold vote for Eisner among all voted shares amounted to only 43%. Our opinion? That 72.5% figure strikes us as a little low. Put yourself in the shoes of these particular voters. You're walking around in a Minnie Mouse costume in 90-degree weather wearing a giant grin plastered on your face. You're waving hi and posing for photos with 2-year-olds who kick you in the shins. Meanwhile, the stock you socked away for the future is down about 40% from its 2000 highs. And what chance do you have to lash out at your boss, face to face, to express your frustration with his performance? None. None, that is, until this anti-Eisner movement comes along. Yep, by our measures, 72.5% withholding is like a landslide victory.
2. I Know Bull When I SiebelWe know Wall Street's much-maligned sell-side analysts are on a crusade to improve the quality and exactitude of their research. But this is getting ridiculous. We're talking about a report issued late last week by UBS analyst Heather Bellini, one in which she cut her price target on the software company Siebel Systems ( SEBL). More precisely (as pointed out to us by Brendan DeLamielleure), Bellini cut her 12-month price target on Siebel from $12.50 to $12. Yes, by 4%. By 50 cents.
|Do I Hear 50 Cents More? |
Keep your eye on intraday moves
3. SpongeBob Won't Be Quite So SpongyPfizer ( PFE) announced Tuesday that sales of the anti-impotence drug Viagra fell 25% in the U.S. in the first quarter. (Readers, insert your own childish double entendre here, comparing Viagra's decline to, uh, well, you know.)
|Viagra Sales Less Virile |
Will the commercials go away then?
On a conference call with analysts,
But how realistic was Katen's hope? Think about all the advertising that Pfizer has run for Viagra over the past year. Think about the hundreds of millions of dollars in free publicity Viagra has gotten via late-night TV comics and infantile journalists. And think about how motivated its possible users must be. By now, we would guess that every man in America who has the slightest interest in sex -- and every man's significant other -- already knows all about Viagra and has already decided whether or not to ask his or her doctor about it. As far as we can figure out, the only way for Pfizer to expand the market for Viagra is to start advertising it on Nickelodeon.
4. What's It All Abatix, Alfie?Investors wondering whether we're riding yet another bubble don't have to go much further than the recent history of Abatix ( ABIX). It all started after the market closed last Wednesday night, when the construction tool distributor announced it would be the exclusive worldwide distributor of something called "RapidCool." Pretty cool stuff, this RapidCool. As Abatix explained in a press release, "This unique, proprietary line of products actually removes heat from fire, metal, wood, skin and other surfaces -- fires are suppressed with less water and manpower; skin treated with the FDA approved RapidCool(TM) burn cream heals more quickly; trees and other combustibles treated with RapidCool(TM) refuse to ignite; expensive tool components in the industrial segment that are treated with RapidCool(TM) generally have an extended life." Wow. Did you get that? RapidCool "removes heat from fire," whatever that means. It causes your skin to heal. It prevents forest fires. It extends the life of machinery. We bet it cures erectile dysfunction, too, but whoever wrote the press release must have been forgotten to put that part in. Which is our way of saying that the more claims that people make for a particular product, the louder the "danger, danger" alarm bells ring here at the Five Dumbest Things Research Lab. But our siren turned out to be someone else's siren song. Abatix's stock more than tripled last Thursday, shooting from $5.31 to $16.70 on staggering volume.
|How Cool Is This? |
Well, it takes the heat out of fire
Abatix, you see, backed away from the miraculous claims it made last week. Among other "clarifications," the company now says any of last week's claims as to the "efficacy and uniqueness" of the RapidCool products are based on representations made by their developer "and have not been verified by Abatix, except through its viewing of certain product demonstrations, and have not been verified by any third party."
And remember the "FDA approved RapidCool(TM) burn cream"? Another, uh, "clarification" was necessary. "The RapidCool(TM) burn cream does not have FDA approval," Abatix said Wednesday. Got that? The FDA approved RapidCool burn cream does not, in fact, have FDA approval. By the time Abatix started trading again this Wednesday, interest in the stock had rapidly cooled. It closed at $9.77. Who's the greater fool here? Abatix, or the people who jumped into the stock? Give us a chance to test that RapidCool burn cream, and we'll let you know.