Joe Herrick of Gutterman Research

Following the release of a company's quarterly earnings report, analysts get a chance to participate in a conference call with the company's management. When I briefly worked in a pr firm, years ago, I had to listen to quite a few of these calls. I thought they were usually mind-numbingly dull. But it sounds like someone has figured out a way to have some fun with them. The Wall Street Journal Reports:

At least seven times just the past three weeks, a mystery caller has cleverly insinuated himself into the normally well-manicured ritual of the quarterly calls. As top executives of publicly traded companies respond to securities analysts’ questions about their balance sheets, he impersonates a well-known analyst to get called upon. Then, usually declaring himself to be “Joe Herrick of Gutterman Research,” he launches into his own version of analyst-speak.

“Congratulations on the solid numbers — you always seem to come through in challenging times,” he said to Leo Kiely, president and chief executive officer of Molson Coors Brewing Co., on February 12, convincingly parroting the obsequious banter common to the calls. “Can you provide some more color as to what you are doing for your supply chain initiatives to reduce manufacturing costs per hectoliter, as you originally promised $150 million in synergy or savings to decrease working capital?”

The question is: Is Herrick a prankster who's trying to mock the corporate-speak of conference calls, or is he just a nutcase who's obsessed with grilling CEOs about corporate efficiency?

Giving weight to the nutcase theory is that Herrick's questions don't seem designed to be humorous. They're excessively focused on obscure details, but they are serious questions. One CEO speculates that he's "'some minion' at a consulting firm trying to do clandestine research on companies’ use of Six Sigma techniques." So if Herrick is intending to poke fun at corporate-speak, he's doing so in a very, very deadpan way.

The Wall Street Journal article has a link in a sidebar to an audio file of Herrick's exchange with the management team of Molson Coors Brewing. So you can listen for yourself and try to figure out just what Herrick is up to. (via Art of the Prank)

Business/Finance Pranks

Posted on Wed Feb 20, 2008


It sounds to me like he's a fan of Dilbert. The books about Dilbert often suggest pulling pranks of this sort just to add some interest to the boredom of the workplace. The fact that he's using long, obscure words in the Dilbert style is enough to convince me.

For my part, if I had a job that boring, I would appreciate a prank like that every now and then...
Posted by SuperGrouper  on  Wed Feb 20, 2008  at  07:13 AM
OK, how did this guy get into the conference calls? This had to be an inside job in one of the companies involved.
Posted by Christopher Cole  in  Tucson, AZ  on  Wed Feb 20, 2008  at  07:38 PM
"Mr Herrick" can join these calls since they are open to the public. No inside help is needed, just someone with time on their hands. Also, the bridge equipment does capture his ANI phone number which does provide it to the company itself. From that point, its up to the company to investigate "Mr Herrick" and from what i hear, his wife & children..
Posted by ConfOperator  in  NJ  on  Thu Feb 28, 2008  at  03:08 PM
Could be he's a disgruntled ex-employee of the call center. They pay us next to nothing and treat us as slaves, constantly requiring more from us with NO potential for a raise. That's right, after about a year you are maxed out. MAXED 12 dollars an New 2008. More people should do what he's doing.
Posted by PoorOperator  in  NJ  on  Mon Mar 03, 2008  at  06:26 AM
doubtful he's an event op, he speaks well and doesnt whine..
Posted by NotSoPoorOp  in  NJ  on  Wed Mar 05, 2008  at  10:44 PM
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