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