For a bit of comic relief check out “Mad Lib Earnings,” an all-too-true parody of earnings releases and the obligatory wire service stories that cover them. It’s Stanley Bing’s column on the last page of the August 17, 2009, Fortune magazine.
Bing’s fill-in-the-blanks earnings release makes our job easy. There’s a boilerplate quote from the CEO complete with an overwrought metaphor:
“These are tough times,” said Bob Boberts, chief executive officer of Big Fat Company. “Tough times call for tender chickens, and ours are the juiciest in what is, right now, a lean and stringy sector.”
We can choose between reporting a decline or “sad little incline” in second-quarter revenue. There’s a nod to cost cutting in “the elimination of nondairy creamer in offices nationwide.” Some optimistic-without-saying-much words from the COO.
And a wire service story, appearing five seconds after the release, offers jewels like:
“Results, schmesults,” said a quote monkey from an investment bank who’s always available to validate assumptions. “We’re going to downgrade them anyhow …”
I think we know that sell side analyst who always take the reporters’ calls. And as a former newspaperman, I can enjoy the satire on journalism’s craft – we used to call quickie news stories with instant analysis “three phone calls and a cloud of dust.”
So there you have it. Investor relations and the financial news media continue getting the word out, for better or worse. We need a chuckle now and then.