Thursday, April 09, 2009

Wells Fargo Is It The New Market Barometer?

Wells Fargo (WFC) announced results and had a curious quote from the CFO Howard Atkins; which makes one wonder if Wells Fargo is becoming the new market barometer. They will do well in bad times but stay out of relative trouble when their peers blow their brains out with fads and mania's. Check out this quote and remember if memory serves correctly Warren Buffet bought into these guys a long time ago.

"Wells Fargo’s business model typically produces above-peer revenue growth particularly during difficult economic times like these when others in the industry are incurring losses on activities in which we did not participate,” said Atkins. “With the acquisition of Wachovia, we’re now serving almost one of every three U.S. households. Revenue synergies from cross-sell are a huge opportunity much like the Wells Fargo-Norwest merger ten years ago.”

So if the investing public decide these guys are a barometer watch how the executive start shaping their words and communications strategy whenever they go public with a comment.

ZEP Scrubs It's Own Sales Force

ZEP (ZEP) announced that they lost a modest amount of money as they restructure, reconfigure and rejig the various components. In reading the press release you realize that they have fired low performing sales reps and are adding high performing sales reps. Glad to hear it. What took them so long and why is it part of the press release. Any sales force is constantly being pruned. you keep the good ones and get rid of the poor ones. This is now being foisted on the investors as a strategic initiative when in fact this is classic day to day sales management. They also claim that the new sales reps are so strong that they will be powerful contributors immediately. So if you read between the lines their will be no further excuses for poor revenues.

The explanations are simplistic and naive. You have to wonder about the savvy of the Board and senior management for allowing this style of wording to go out and thinking its OK.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Bed Bath & Beyond Skimpy Disclosure

Bed Bath & Beyond (BBBY) issued Q4 and year end numbers. Given the approximate 20% increase in share price the market must be pleasantly surprised. So when you read the press release why is there no explanation of what is going on? They throw in the financials and a few words of financial elevator analysis. This was up that was down and that's it. Given today's difficult retail environment the management team needs to open up the kimono and explain why everything looks so damn good.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Tricky French Disclosure Total Petroleum

Total (TOT) issued a press release on Friday which only goes to show how we need to integrate disclosure standards on an international basis. Total of course is a mega huge international petroleum company and has many things to disclose which are of vital interest to shareholders. Q4 and year end numbers were release several months ago.

But this time they have filed with French authorities a requisite document that contains the annual financial report, the report by the Chairman of the Board of Directors required under Article L. 225-37 of the French Commercial Code (corporate governance, internal control and risk management), the reports from the independent auditors and their fees, and a description of the share buyback program. The documents are available from their web site if you care to follow links and download, then read, then comprehend.

At the same time the company has filed their annual report on Form 20-F for the year ended December 31, 2008, with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on Friday April 3, 2009. Again free downloads are available.

Legally they are on side in several jurisdictions that are not regulatory congruent. But the investor needs to do a lot of work in comparing documents before the entire picture is congruent. But before you get too upset Q1 results are coming out in May 6, 2009 followed by the annual meeting on May 15. The timing is the oldest trick in the book. Hold the regulatory necessary meeting to review last year, but focus investors on the latest quarter which of course is only the first quarter and not the full year.

Investors may have a generalized feeling that its hard to get a handle on the Total picture.