|Doom and Voom |
1. Flipping the Bird at CablevisionWell, you can say a lot about Chuck Dolan, but you can't accusehim of wishy-washiness. Once he fixates on a bad idea, he holds on toit for dear life.
Dolan, to remind you, is chairman of Cablevision (CVC), the mostlysuccessful cable TV operator behind the ill-fated high-definitiontelevision satellite service called Voom.
But what wasn't so widely reported was Dolan's assessment of whyVoom went down the tubes.It had nothing to do with the obvious reasons whyVoom was near-doomed from the start. Voom, for example, faced intensecompetition from the comfortably established EchoStar ( DISH)and DirecTV ( DTV). Voom's much-vaunted high-definition programming waspadded with lame, exclusive-for-a-good-reason programming such asEuroleague basketball and views of a tropical fish tank. No, that wasn't the problem, according to Dolan. Instead, it wasOur Litigious Society, which apparently makes it impossible forcompany directors to Be Brave and Do the Right Thing. Really. In
2. Commerce, Cool and CollectedNow that Wall Street has rid itself of research-investment bankingconflicts, what's stopping analysts from doing honest, well-informedassessments of the companies they cover? The companies, evidently. That's the case, at least, with Commerce Bancorp ( CBH), the NewJersey-based bank caught up in allegations of two executives'involvement in municipal influence peddling in Philadelphia. As we learned from The Philadelphia Inquirer last Friday,Commerce has a delightfully straightforward method for silencing itscritics in the analyst community. It silences them. Specifically, when it came time for the question-and-answersession on the company's recent fourth-quarter earnings call -- thetime when companies must depart from their scripted presentation toanswer occasionally difficult questions from analysts -- Commercesimply refused to take questions from analysts who had unfavorable ratingson the company, according to the Inquirer. Four analysts -- including one from Legg Mason and another fromfinancial services specialist Keefe Bruyette & Woods -- told the Inquirer that they didn't get a chance to question management, nomatter how many times they pressed the buttons on their phone thatshould have put them in the queue. Meanwhile, more favored analysts from Merrill Lynch and A.G.Edwards were able to ask not just one question, but two. (Andno, it wasn't simply two-part questions or quick follow-ups theyasked, but clearly distinct questions at separate times during thecall.)
3. An Allocation for Taking StockRemember back in the olden days of the dot-com boom, when hot,newly public stocks would shoot skyward on their first day of tradingin a spontaneous frenzy of demand? Well, it turns out that the frenzy was not so spontaneous. On Tuesday, the Securities and Exchange Commission settledcivil complaints with Goldman Sachs ( GS) and Morgan Stanley ( MWD) oncharges that the investment banks violated securities laws in 1999 and2000 in their handling of initial public offerings of various techcompanies. According to the complaints, the two banks -- not, apparently, inconcert -- came up with the same method for improving the odds thatshares in companies they brought public would jump in price once theystarted trading on the open market.
4. Hour Mutual FriendLast week we were shocked to learn that Qualcomm ( QCOM) was
|Top-Dollar Temps |
Krispy Kreme puff gigs
On Tuesday, Krispy Kreme Doughnuts ( KKD) announced the pay scalefor the two turnaround specialists brought in to run the companyafter the departure of CEO Scott Livengood.
For the services of new CEO Stephen Cooper, Krispy Kreme will bepaying his employer, Kroll Zolfo Cooper, $760 an hour. President andChief Operating Officer Steven Panagos, also on the payroll of KZC,will cost $695 an hour.
So, let's get this straight. The two new Steves atop Krispy Kremearen't simply hourly wage workers, they're also temps. Is this agreat country, or what? Makes us want to run out and sign up with Kelly Services (KELYA).
5. The Knauss that Roared
|The Trumptials |