Tuesday, December 26, 2006

The “Best Ever” Press Release.

No, this is not about the “best ever” press release I have seen in 25-plus years on Wall Street.

Rather, this is about the “Best Ever” press release that Amazon.com’s P.R. minions keep in their Word files for release, like clockwork, the day after Christmas (except in 2004, when they released it the day after the day after Christmas).

I am not making this up.

The following are the post-Christmas headlines from the last five years via my Bloomberg:

12/26/2006 "Amazon.com’s 12th Holiday Season is Best Ever"

12/26/2005 “Amazon.com, Inc. today announced that the 2005 holiday season finished as its best ever…”

12/27/2004 “Amazon.com’s Tenth Holiday Season is Best Ever…”

12/26/2003 “Amazon.com Wraps Up Its Ninth Holiday With Busiest Season Ever.”

12/26/2002 “Amazon.com today announced it has finished its busiest holiday season ever…”

Now, any company is entitled to boast when it achieves a new all-time sales record—especially companies in seasonally-sensitive businesses like Amazon.com, where a few days of bad weather or bad news can disrupt an entire year’s worth of planning and preparation, and, therefore, hurt a years’ worth of sales and earnings.

But unless I am missing something, Amazon.com has been in business all of twelve years.

Furthermore, it is the largest Internet-based retailer on earth, and thus still benefiting from the secular shift of consumer spending online.

Finally, it is based in America, and as we have seen from the morning’s headlines, the entire American economy had its “best ever” holiday season last week, even if the numbers were not quite as spectacular as some had anticipated.

So do we really need yet another press release from Amazon.com boasting of its “Best Ever” holiday season?

Not for nothing, but it seems highly likely that even Amazon’s money-losing competitor Overstock.com experienced its “Best Ever” holiday sales these last few weeks, while poor old Circuit City did in fact just report its best Thanksgiving weekend sales in five years, but at such lousy margins that Wall Street’s Finest couldn’t downgrade the stock fast enough.

So maybe Amazon’s P.R. minions should save their dry powder for the day the company does not experience its “Best Ever” holiday season.

They’ll need all spin they can get when that happens.

Jeff Matthews
I Am Not Making This Up

© 2006 Jeff Matthews

The content contained in this blog represents the opinions of Mr. Matthews. Mr. Matthews also acts as an advisor and clients advised by Mr. Matthews may hold either long or short positions in securities of various companies discussed in the blog based upon Mr. Matthews' recommendations. This commentary in no way constitutes a solicitation of business or investment advice. It is intended solely for the entertainment of the reader, and the author.


Sam E. Antar said...



"They’ll need all spin they can get when that happens."

Spinning is an art which requires many skills. As an ex-felon I would like to share some of my knowledge with you as posted on my web site:

The Art of Spinning: How to Identify Possible White Collar Criminals or at Least Unethical and Deceitful People Who You Should Avoid

People often ask me what characteristics I look for in other people that alert me to possible criminal activity or at least unethical and deceitful people.

You first need to undertand the nature of white collar crime and white collar criminals. White collar crime is a crime of persuasion and deceit. Since the white collar criminal uses persuasion and deceit to commit their crimes it follows that such felons are artful liars.

Not all questionable conduct is illegal. A person can be unethical or deceitful (however they are defined) without committing any illegal acts as defined under the law.

However, most criminals use tools like spinning (see below) in the conduct of their crimes.

The Art of Spinning:

Sell people hope. My cousin ‘Crazy Eddie’ Antar taught me that “people live on hope” and their hopes and dreams must be fed through our spin and lies.

Make excuses as long as you can. Try to have your excuses based on at least one truthful fact even if the fact is unrelated to your actions and argument.

When you cannot dispute the underlying facts, accept them as true but rationalize your actions. You are allowed to make mistakes as long as you have no wrongful intent. Being stupid is not a crime.

Always say in words you “take responsibility” but try to indirectly shift the blame on other people and factors. You need to portray yourself as a “stand up” gay or gal.

When you cannot defend your actions or arguments attack the messenger to detract attention from your questionable actions.

Always show your kindness by doing people favors. You will require the gratitude of such people to come to your aid and defend you.

Build up your stature, integrity, and credibility by publicizing the good deeds you have done in areas unrelated to the subject of scrutiny.

Build a strong base of support. Try to have surrogates and the beneficiaries of your largess stand up for you and defend you.

If you can, appear to take the “high road” and have your surrogates do the “dirty work” for you. After all, you cannot control the actions of your zealots.

When you can no longer spin shut up. For example offer no guidance to investors or resign for “personal reasons.” Your surrogates and so-called friends can still speak on your behalf and defend you.

If you are under investigation always say you will “cooperate.” However, use all means necessary legal or otherwise to stifle the investigators. Remember that “people live on hope” and their inclination is to believe you.

When called to testify under oath (if you do not exercise your 5th amendment privilege against self-incrimination) have selective memory about your questionable actions. It is harder to be charged with perjury if you cannot remember what you have done rather than testify and lie about it.

However, before you testify have other friendly witnesses testify before you to defend you. You need to “lock in” their stories first (before they change their minds) so your testimony does not conflict with their testimony and your story will appear to be more truthful.

Try not to have your actions at least appear to rise to the level of criminal conduct or a litigable action. Being stupid or being unethical is not always a crime or a tortuous action.

One last rule, to be a most effective spinner always keep your friends close and your enemies closer. The kindness you show your enemies will reduce their propensity to be skeptical of you.

If you see some of the above similarities in people who are in authority such as executives, politicians, and others you are forewarned to watch out. Before a person can be a white collar criminal they first must be deceitful and be able to follow most of the above rules of spinning.

As Barry Minkow (former ZZZZ Best fraudster and now the respected co-founder of Fraud Discovery Institute which has uncovered over 18 frauds totaling over $1 billion) told me “look for points of similarity” in our previous behavior as fraudsters to find other criminals. Another thing I have learned as a criminal that “it takes one to know one.”

Written by,

Sam E. Antar (former Crazy Eddie CFO and ex-felon)

I used to tell and write financial fairy tales as a white collar criminal.

I warn all reading this comment as an ex-felon who has "been there, done that" to look for this pattern of behavior.

Its_strange said...

It sounds to me Sam Antar discribed just about any successful US politician.

Sam E. Antar said...

To Its Strange:

As Captain Renault said in the movie Casablanca:

I am shocked to find that gambling is going on here!

With great respect,

Sam E. Antar (former Crazy Eddie CFO and convicted felon)