Sunday, May 17, 2009

Fortune Teller

Reading the May 11, 2009 issue of Fortune - aka the Bernie Madoff Special. All sorts of interesting stuff.

Page 12. 'Gun Money'. Bizarrely, the gun and ammunition business in the US has exploded (sorry) over the past year. Remington just announced a backlog of almost $300 million. Up from $115 million a year ago. Smith and Wesson shares are up 338%! There is a backlog of 1.3 people waiting for background checks to purchase firearms. WTF? Should we all be worried that the bottom line is more prematurely dead people?

Page 13. 'Golf Gets Handicapped'. Great first sentence - "ever since the roster of PGA tour sponsors started resembling the list of TARP recipients....". Yeah, point is, sponsors are a LITTLE tougher to come by for the PGA. Poor Tiger.

Page 16. 'Chuteless in Detroit'. Applauding Rick Wagoner and GM for doing the right thing - not building Rick a golden parachute. According to Fortune, poor Rick may come away with almost nothing after taking GM down. Fortune seems to be in agreement with itself that that seems appropriate. For once.

Page 18. 'Can My Boss Eliminate My Bonus?'. Fortunately, I don't have a boss. The answer is yes. Unless it's part of an employment contract. Which most aren't. You may want to get on that.

Page 22. 'Trouble in Travel Land'. Guess what? Class action lawyers are trying to f. up cheap travel by going after on-line travel companies like Travelocity and Expedia. Their beef? That these OTC's haven't been paying enough local occupancy taxes. Go ahead. Put Travelocity out of business. Collect some back taxes. And watch travel to your crappy little burgh (even your not-so-crappy big one) drop even more.

Page 25. 'Viewpoint' by David Gergen, the CNN dude who worked for a bunch of US Presidents on 'How Can Business Stand Tall Again'. His advice for building a positive perception and keeping the feds a little more at bay:
  • business should acknowldege it's role in the current mess
  • get back to fundamentals - like tying pay to performance, and meausuring performance over something longer than 3 months
  • work for, not against social reforms - like global warming and health care reform
  • embrace the concept of corporate management becoming a true profession, like lawyers and doctors.
Um. Question. Will making executives more like lawyers really improve their public perception?

Page 27. The 'Investing' section. 800,000 properties received foreclosure notices in the first quarter of 2009. That seems big.

Hang on, there's more.

From the Technology section. Page 37. 'Who's on Deck in Tech?' Nobody. Very few of those great tech companies like Google, Apple, Dell, HP, IBM, etc have identified a successor to the CEO. Reminder again that governance is a nice concept.....seldom practiced.

Also in technology. Page 39. Last one.

'Apple Apps Store Thinks Small'. An article about Apple going after small business and entrepreneurs with the i-phone. I'm biased on this one. I don't believe any serious business person will ever use an i-phone. For one simple reason: you can't type on it. And there....last sentence of the article. In Fortune. "I use my i-phone to reactive to information, but not for active tasks" says Robin Dhar. "Typing on it is really hard."

Case closed.

By the way, the Bernie article is good reading too. Buy your own Fortune.

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