Tag Archive: NASDAQ


Well, I’ve got news for the bullies of Wall Street. The presidency is not a crown to be passed back and forth by you between two royal families.” – Former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley

Let us wage a moral and political war against the billionaires and corporate leaders, on Wall Street and elsewhere, whose policies and greed are destroying the middle class of America.”Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders

“The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.” – Former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill

Are the phrases “economic populism” and “social justice” not-so-clever disguises for a full-fledged War on Wall Street?occupy1

Is this another round of the disorganized/nearly forgotten desultory Occupy Wall Street movement now showered, deodorized and all dressed up to make it seem more palatable to the American public?

As we head into the 2016 presidential cycle, one needs to ask:

Is it sound politics, particularly for a general election, to directly take aim on a system in which 52 percent of Americans build their hard-earned wealth through the investment in stocks, bonds and mutual funds for an active retirement, their children’s college education, a second career or something grand on the “bucket list?”

Granted this slightly more than half figure is down significantly from the 65 percent of Americans owning stocks, bonds and mutual funds in the beginning of 2007, but that year was the beginning of the recession, downturn and economic malaise.

Some are questioning what happened to the middle class, but many are forgetting America’s burgeoning “investor class.” And with 52 percent of the public participating, it obviously applies to far more than just 1 percent of the American population. The more than half of all Americans owning stocks, bonds and mutual funds in 2013 could be even higher now because of the bull market.gender6

These are the people who invest in IRAs mainly with retail brokers in person or online (i.e., Schwab, Scottrade, TD Ameritrade, eTrade, Edward Jones) or designate a percentage of their pre-tax income in 401Ks with a percentage matching from their employer with taxes being deferred until retirement.

According to Gallup, they are for the most part college graduates as 73 percent of those with undergraduate degrees and 83 percent with graduate degrees invest in markets … that would be publicly traded companies on Wall Street.

Money Under the Mattress?

And why would they do that? Consider the alternatives:

How about under the mattress. How about no rate of return?

How about banks? How about 0.02 percent interest rates?

How about real estate? How about the prospect of underwater mortgages?

And you wonder why smart upper, upper-middle and middle class Americans with some disposable income invest in publicly traded American companies listed on the NYSE and NASDAQ, even though people can lose a portion or all of their investment? The answer is that Wall Street is the best game in town, and with knowledge, diversification, perseverance and a cast-iron stomach, literally millions of people build wealth by investing in our markets and our country.

“Unequal sharing of blessings” 

And what is the raison d’etre of these Wall Street companies? According to ERISA or the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, passed by a Democratic Congress, publicly traded corporations are legally and morally mandated to drive the bottom line (doing well) for the benefit of their shareholders.

Guess that means they hire hundreds of thousands of Americans and make the products that people around the world want and need. That even includes the upscale coffee, tablets, earphones, cameras, laptops, mobile phones, social media software and operating systems used by Occupy Wall Street and made by (gasp) companies publicly traded on Wall Street.occupy2

Almost DailyBrett senses a disconnect, but does it matter in a party primary when the empty vessels making the most noise have near zero chance of winning the nomination?

Looking down the road to the fall of 2016 would a presidential nominee really want to be saddled with a platform that takes “issue” with major employers of tens of thousands, providing wonderful products and the prospects of solid rates of return for investors? That doesn’t sound like a winning prescription.

It may make the union bosses happy. It may re-energize those with the need to demonstrate just like they did in 1968, but does it make any political sense to attack, demonize and vilify the proverbial goose that lays the golden egg?

Does Wall Street in the wake of Enron, Arthur Andersen, Bear Stearns, Global Crossing, Martha Stewart, $6,000 shower curtains, “Race Together,” Bernie Madoff, GM and Chrysler bailouts, BP Deepwater Horizon, excessive executive compensation have major real and perceived public relations problems? Does Wall Street need better reputation management? Absolutely.

At the same time, let’s not lose sight of Corporate Social Responsibility (doing good) and the literally thousands of companies that work to protect the environment (e.g., Starbucks and Conservation International), address climate change (e.g., Tesla), help rebuild communities (e.g., Home Depot and Habitat for Humanity), combat cancer (e.g., Nike founder Phil Knight and Oregon Health and Sciences University) assist low-income children with difficult medical conditions (e.g., Southwest Airlines and Ronald McDonald House) … ehh … wouldn’t that be McDonald’s as well?

For those attacking Wall Street indiscriminately under the banner of “economic populism” aren’t they guilty of throwing out the baby with the bath water.

Maybe they should be drinking their own bath water instead.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/hillary-clintons-guilt-by-association/2015/06/04/bd836dc4-0b13-11e5-a7ad-b430fc1d3f5c_story.html?wpisrc=nl_opinions&wpmm=1

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/poll-who-can-get-ahead-in-the-u-s/

http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/b/bernie_sanders.html

http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/w/winstonchu101776.html

http://www.gallup.com/poll/147206/stock-market-investments-lowest-1999.aspx

http://money.cnn.com/2013/05/09/investing/american-stock-ownership/

 

 

 

 

 

 

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“Sometimes the most obvious question is the question. In Enron’s case: How do you make money?” — Fortune Magazine Reporter Bethany McLean.

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The simple answer was Enron wasn’t making money; the company was losing money hand-over-fist.

Enron was hiding these massive losses from regulators, investors, suppliers, partners and most of all, its own massively investing-in-Enron-stock employees.

Still investors poured billions into Enron simply because the stock was going up big time. The majority had no idea about how Enron made money in its energy, bandwidth and weather (go figure) trading schemes and didn’t seem to care because the stock was skyrocketing. As Martha would say: “It (was) a good thing.” Yep, a good thing until the house of cards came tumbling down in a 2001 bankruptcy filing, crashing and burning.

What was that about how does a company makes money?

As we head into the next round of hysteria as yet a third social media provider goes IPO (Initial Public Offering), this one, Twitter, under the ticker, TWTR, one needs to contemplate Bethany McLean’s most obvious of all questions.

twitterjackdorsey

How does Twitter make money?

How does LinkedIn make money?

How does Facebook make money?

How does J.C. Penne’ make money? Hint: It doesn’t.

This simple question needs to be posed to and answered by all publicly traded companies, whether they play in the new economy or the old economy.

The need to quickly, credibility and confidently answer this question, preferably in a brief elevator pitch, solidifies the need for well-trained and highly skilled corporate public relations, investor relations, crisis communications, brand and reputation management practitioners.

Teaching upper-division public relations courses, I would flash images of corporate logos up on the screen and ask students how Company A or Company B makes money.

In our quick media world — whether by conventional or digital means — the millennial digital native generation, more than any other that preceded it, has been bombarded incessantly on all sides by brands.

After initial hesitations, the students were quickly and enthusiastically recalling what the brand means in term of how a company makes money, and even “positioning” companies in their respective market spaces (e.g., BMW vs. VW: Nordstrom vs. Macy’s; Southwest vs. United). Starbucks and McDonald’s both sell upscale coffee. They now both offer drive-through windows. They are the same. Right? Wrong.

As mentioned before in Almost DailyBrett, LinkedIn and Facebook are both social media outlets. To Wall Street they couldn’t be more different.

LinkedIn debuted at $45 in 2011 and now trades at $245.13.linkedin_logo_11

Facebook went public at $38 in 2012 and now trades at $51.01.

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LinkedIn has been able to easily answer the how it makes money question (e.g., monetizes social media) by pointing to “connections,” premium services, advertising and the fact that LinkedIn is the choice for recruiters, job hunters, network builders and those seeking business leads.

Facebook is finally starting to gain traction in the market after its disastrous NASDAQ IPO. The company has been plagued by how do “friends” correlate with the legal tender?

Will 140-character per tweet Twitter be the next LinkedIn, the next Facebook or just maybe the first Twitter in the eyes of Wall Street investors?

A CNBC report this week pointed to Twitter’s relationship with the hard-to-get National Football League and CBS in which video supplied by both will be available for tweets. Wall Street may very well see a ka-ching correlation with this deal.

The deal and others, plus the recently announced Twitter S-1 (e.g., company prospectus) may have a direct bearing on what will be the pricing and Wall Street response to the much-anticipated IPO.

As more companies pursue the IPO route, minus the ones that opt to rebuild in privacy (e.g., Dell), that means even more opportunities for skilled-and-trained corporate public relations, investor relations, crisis communications, brand-and-management protection pros.

Conservatively, there are more than 5,100 publicly traded companies on the two major exchanges, the NYSE Euronext and NASDAQ. There are thousands more on overseas exchange, such as Japan’s Nikkei, Hong Kong’s Hang Sang, Britain’s “Footsie” or FTSE, France’s CAC-40 and Germany’s DAX.

Each of these companies, most definitely those in America, has reporting requirements on an annualized and quarterly basis. The Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) mandates 10-Q quarterly earnings reports; 10-K annual reports to shareholders; 8-K unscheduled “material” information disclosure announcements; S-4 additional share purchases, an annual meeting with shareholders, and of course, an S-1 filing of a privately held company prospectus prior to an IPO.

All of these filings require on-target prose, delivered conventionally and digitally, employing text, audio and video. Who are these message builders? Who will train them? And where can they be found?

As long as a publicly traded company is in business, it must report. It must communicate. It has absolutely no choice.

Quite clearly, the demand for these highly skilled corporate PR and investor relations practitioners outstrips the supply. Maybe that’s why they are compensated at a PR segment high average of $117,233 annually.

Sounds like an upwards-to-the-right market for qualitative-and-quantitative PR/IR types.

Full-Disclosure Note: The editor of Almost DailyBrett at various times owned shares of both LinkedIn and Facebook, only to subsequently sell the stocks. He fully anticipates as a mere retail investor being a late arrival to the upcoming Twitter IPO, if only to follow TWTR on a daily basis…Thank God he never bought into Enron.

http://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20131003191330-270738-with-twitter-s-ipo-5-key-things-you-need-to-understand-about-the-social-ad-revolution

http://www.forbes.com/sites/tomiogeron/2013/10/03/twitter-reveals-long-awaited-ipo-plans-253m-revenue-in-first-half-of-2013/

http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2013/10/03/twitter-discloses-its-i-p-o-plans/?_r=0

hamburgerfries

That used to be the punch of the joke about what liberal arts majors will be doing after college? You didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.

For those who are the butt of this joke (maybe not English majors), the tide may be turning…or at least there is a glimmer of a real shift in traditional thinking.

According to an Association of American Colleges and Universities survey of chief executives, 74 percent of C-level respondents recommend a 21st-century liberal arts education in order to create the dynamic workers needed for the modern workplace.

This report brought into question why everyone is getting their knickers in a collective twist over STEM skills or the focus on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.

Is the proverbial paradigm shifting? Maybe not.

The Economist recently reported that once again the way-too-low U.S. allotment of 85,000 H-1B visas for the best-and-the-brightest technology Wunderkindern from overseas (mostly East Asia and the Subcontinent) were snatched up in the first five days of April. Recognizing this paltry number, some technology trade associations are lobbying to raise the H-1B visa cap back to 195,000 annually, but it is tough sledding in the face of predictable opposition from organized labor.

At the same time, the national unemployment rate (measuring only those who are actually looking for work) remains stubbornly high at 7.7 percent, and it does not include the millions of underemployed Americans.

How many contradictions can you count in these reports?

There is an increased demand for articulate and talented graduates in the written and spoken word. Does that mean that our digitized society should not put so much time, treasure and effort into STEM?

And yet we need to import those particularly adept in science, technology, engineering and math from overseas…because there is a talent shortage in this area.

Let me ask: Where are the Americans?

There are literally 14 million…give or take…who are unemployed and underemployed…and recent reports indicate that only 50 percent of those with college degrees or some degrees are finding work.

And yet there are obvious shortages for STEM-winders and now (gasp) liberal arts graduates…and what seems to be a permanent, unacceptable unemployment rate.

Got that?

At the risk of being completely off base (wouldn’t be the first time), let me offer that education should be seen as the answer, albeit there are no guarantees. At a minimum, a graduate with a bachelor’s degree or better yet, a master’s degree is better positioned to compete in today’s lifelong learning society.

NYSE_Building,jpg

Consider that the venerable New York Stock Exchange has 2,304 listings. The “Big Board’s” edgy competitor, NASDAQ, has 2,784 listings. Together, there are more than 5,000 publicly traded companies in the US alone that are required by the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) to report quarterly earnings releases, issue annual report letters, hold choreographed shareholder meetings, and send out any “material” news on a crash basis that could influence investor buy, hold or sell decisions.

These mandated disclosures alone are testaments to the need for liberal arts graduates with an understanding of how business works to fulfill these requirements.  These complex announcements about how a company makes money and competes cannot be effectively outsourced. Not only are there thousands of corporate jobs supporting these disclosure mandates; there are thousands more at public relations agencies and trade associations that are related to these activities.

And let’s not forget the public relations/marketing supporting the sale of the products and services these companies create and offer.

Reflecting upon my years as the Director of Communications for the Semiconductor Industry Association and as the vice chair of its Communication Committee, I distinctly remember our efforts to stimulate more middle-school and high school students, particularly young women, to pursue careers in engineering. That of course meant more math and science. There was no engineering Michael Jordan to serve as a role model.

We obviously have more work to do.

And when it comes to fast food, McDonald’s is offering university-style training for those who want to start flipping burgers and eventually working their way up the corporate ladder to the C-suite. Reportedly, only one out of every 15 applicants is accepted.

Yep, there may be a day when liberal arts graduates are not electing to “receive” when it comes to a javelin throwing competition. The ability to write well, speak well and tell the story well should always be in demand.

http://www.cnbc.com/id/100642178

http://www.economist.com/news/united-states/21575782-how-hurt-economy-needlessly-not-working

http://www.economist.com/news/international/21576656-degree-burgerologyand-job-too-fries

“You only have to go through one or two communications debacles as a senior executive to understand the importance of communications.” – PepsiCo chairman and chief executive officer Indra Nooyi

State Leadership: An Opportunity for Global Action: Michael Froman: Indra Nooyi

“Corporate crises often do manage to stick in people’s minds because business has such low credibility in the first place, reinforced by incessant media images of ruthless and profit-hungry corporations. A public that was already predisposed to hate big companies could not be completely surprised by what happened to the Exxon Valdez.” – Dartmouth Business Professor Paul A. Argenti

I flunked geometry in high school.

It was my one-and-only “falcon.”

I flunked it big time…and vowed to never take another math class for the rest of my life.

So far, I have kept my promise.

The obvious question that arises is why am I teaching J410 Strategic Business/Financial Communications at the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication starting today? And why was the creation of this course the basis of my master’s degree in journalism?

Does not J410 Strategic Business/Financial Communications involve the very numbers that I so despised?

The answers are that I could have used this class repeatedly during the course of my professional career.

Many go into journalism, public relations and advertising because we don’t like math and/or we lack confidence in our arithmetic skills. The problem is the numbers will find us. We can run but we can’t hide from these little buggers.

We should remember that behind every number is a story. As communicators, we are trained to tell stories. Numbers do not appear out of thin air (okay, they disappeared at Enron…but that is a different tale).

One day I woke up as the press secretary of the Governor of California. Yes, the largest state of the union with approximately 37 million souls. Soon I was writing the news release for the state budget (12 agencies and 250,000 employees), about $70 billion (including bond funds) in the late 1980s. A quick Internet check can reveal the size and scope of California’s exploding budget and related bureaucracy today.

My job was to tell the story of the state budget, how it was balanced, how it did not require new taxes on the citizens of California, and how it even contained (gasp!) a $1 billion reserve for emergencies. Almost seems quaint when compared to the present day.

Shortly after arriving at LSI Logic (NYSE: LSI) in the mid-1990s, I was assigned to write the 10Q (quarterly earnings) releases, the 8-K (crisis communication) releases and the 10K CEO (annual report) letter to investors, customers, employees, partners, suppliers, distributors and other stakeholders.

Help.

What is market capitalization? What is the top line? What is the bottom line? Why is gross margin expanding (does it need to be put on a diet?). And is it better that a deal is accretive or dilutive…dilutive of precisely what?

Reading Professor Chris Roush’s book, “Show Me The Money,” I learned about the editor of a Kentucky newspaper, who was interviewing the CEO of Humana Incorporated, a major managed care company. The CEO referenced on several occasions the regulatory Securities Exchange Commission by its acronym, SEC. This prompted the editor to ask: “Excuse me, but what does the Southeastern Conference have to do with your business?”

roush

One of my academic colleagues recalled a day when she was interviewing a business executive who kept on referencing the S&P 500. She resisted the temptation to ask, what does a car race have to do with the executive’s business? (Do they use Indy Cars or Formula One in the S&P 500?)

There are approximately 5,000 publicly traded companies on the NYSE or the NASDAQ and each one has strict SEC mandated reporting requirements. There are also requirements to preclude the selective disclosure of “material” information…Factoids that would prompt someone to buy, hold or sell a company’s stock.

There are regulations that mandate that GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles) are given greater or at least the same precedence as Pro Forma (Latin: “As a matter of form”) accounting. At LSI Logic, we reported using both methodologies with GAAP always coming first. One reporter from Reuters took issue with us employing both methods, prompting yours truly to reply: “You are the first reporter I have ever met that complains about more information as opposed to less information.”

I wish someone had taught me the rules of business communications as opposed to learning it in the School of Hard Knocks.

The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) announced in December 2011 the results of a quantitative survey of more than 200 corporate executives (vice president or above) on whether corporate communications/reputation management should be taught at leading business schools. Ninety-eight percent of these corporate leaders believe that U.S. business schools need to incorporate corporate communication and reputation management coursework into the standard MBA curriculum.

In addition, the PRSA survey revealed that 94 percent believe that corporate management needs additional training in core communication disciplines. Only 40 percent rated recent company MBA hires as “extremely strong” in responding to crisis situations, building and protecting company credibility.

I bet ya they would have similar sentiments about the business acumen of J-school graduates. It’s time to change these opinions through action.

The goals of J410 Strategic Business/Financial Communications is to instill in future journalists, public relations and advertising professionals with the quantitative abilities to tell the story not only about the numbers, but behind the numbers. For business majors, who are adept at numbers and spread sheets, the mission is to help them in storytelling.

The Securities Exchange Commission is a fact of life. Whether we like it or not, publicly traded companies must communicate (at least every 90 days) and they must instill confidence and conduct themselves in a manner that conveys trust. These skills cannot be outsourced with all due respect to the outsourcing nations.

SEC

The result of seven months of labor over a computer, churning out 61 pages, 15,000 words and more than 140 citations (and just about as many rewrites) becomes reality today. And if all else fails, I will always remember: Buy low, Sell high.

Almost DailyBrett Note: Roush deserves full credit for “Behind Every Number is a Story.” I will never forget this clever use of the English language.

Roush, C. (2004). Show me the money: Writing business and economics stories for mass communication. Mahwah, NJ, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Publishers. Pages 1-407.

Argenti, P., Forman, J. (2002). The power of corporate communication. Crafting the voice and image of your business. New York, N.Y. McGraw-Hill. Page 250.

Argenti, P.A., Howell, R.A. and Beck, K.A. (2005). The strategic communication imperative. MIT Sloan Management Review. Spring 2005. Volume 46. Number 3. Pages 83-89.

http://media.prsa.org/article_display.cfm?article_id=2383

http://www.businessweek.com/business-schools/public-relations-coming-to-a-bschool-near-you-12072011.html

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