Every once in awhile I come across some really off-the-wall news or read about a CEO, CFO or other executive that makes ill-advised or questionable comments. To that end, I'd like to share a couple goofy things that have happened in the market in the last month or so.
News Corp. (NYSE:NWS)
Almost all directors who sit on boards of public companies have extensive corporate backgrounds, or a thorough knowledge of the financial markets. These qualities don't seem overly important at News Corp. Rupert Murdoch recently nominated Natalie Bancroft to serve on News Corp.'s board.
Bancroft's stats: She's 27, lives in Switzerland and is an opera singer or wants to be one. She's acknowledged that she has virtually no experience in commerce or journalism.
Perhaps Fox is looking to class-up "The O'Reilly Factor". (To read more about the story, see "Opera singer on News Corp. Board".)
Whole Foods (NYSE:WFMI)
Whole Foods' chief executive officer John Mackey was outed earlier this year for posting comments on message boards about the company and its business activities. However, Mackey has retained his job, and the incident seemed to have faded from the headlines.
That was until the company brought up the subject again this past week by announcing it had amended its code of business conduct and instituted a policy whereby its executives are prohibited from posting comments about the company, or its competitors on websites. (To read more on the story, see the Reuters article "Whole Foods Bans executives from online forums".)
Folks, is this really necessary? Announcing this stuff is just make headlines and brings the whole scandal right back to the surface. You would hope the company's well-healed officers would know that message boards were off limits by now. Perhaps a quiet, internal memo would have sufficed.
When a company closes out a quarter, accountants usually pour over the numbers and the controller and CFO work extra hard to make sure what is going to be reported in the earnings release is as accurate as possible. In mid-October Citigroup announced a sizable quarterly loss, and the investment bank had also made it clear that it was going to take $3 billion in charges as the result of its subprime risk.
Then, just a couple of weeks later, it was reported on November 4 that, oops, the company might take up to an additional $11 billion in write downs.
What gives? Did an accounting ledger fall behind a desk and not get noticed on the first go around? Eleven billion is kind of a big number. It's hard to pass that off as a rounding error. This one takes the cake.
Every once in awhile I come across some really offbeat news. And I just have to share it with you. Stay tuned, because Q4 earnings season is just around the corner, and there's bound to be lots of excuses and funny news stories out there.
For more market follies, check out The Ghouls And Monsters On Wall Street.
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