Thursday, January 27, 2022 Jan 27, 2022
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TRENDS Glossing the Numbers

ANNUAL REPORTS BOAST AND BLUNDER
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THOSE SUCK ONCE-A-YEAR summaries aie supposed to explain, entertain and entice investors. They cost bundles. So why are the majority so bad?



BEST ANNUAL FIEF’ORT: Creative graphics and employes anecdotes prove that Southwest Airlines is a “different” airline. From a picture of Herb Kelleher and Rollin King seated with the Wright brothers to bar graphs made of rivets, the report conveys the trademark irreverence and fun atmosphere that has made Southwest tops in customer satisfaction.



MOST FRUGAL: The paper stock in the report for Vahi Inc. as well as the one for DR Horton Custom Homes is so thin that you can read text four pages away.



BEST USE OF A QUESTIONABLE METAPHOR:

Perot Systems’ report is themed around the sinking of the Titanic. True, it’s not an image that nost companies would latch onto, but in this case, it reinforces Perot Systems’ separation from the plethora of other IT companies (perhaps most notably EDS), who have a reputation for arrogance.



WORST USE OIF A QUESTIONABLE METAPHOR:

Oaisytek’s report uses a circus theme, proclaiming the firm to be the “Greatest Cornpany on Earth.” Sure, it’s more fun to look at than a bunch of graphs and charts, but does a picture of the management team dressed in clown suits really instill confidence in potential investors’?

BEST USE OF MULTICULTURALISM: The Sabre Group translates key portions of its annua! report into eight languages, while Les Alberthal’s message to EDS shareholders is translated into five.



WORST USE OF MULTICULTURALISM:

Kimberly-Clark’s annual report includes the product experiences of various families from places as far-flung as Czechoslovakia, Israel, China, and Argentina. But there’s such a thing as knowing too much about your neighbors: “In winter, Petr and Jitka Palicka turn their attention to downhill skiing…. Joining them on their weekend excursions are 9-year-old Victor and 3-year-old Magdalena. Much to Magdalena’s disappointment, though, Cikana the cat stays home. At home or away, Jitka trusts the quality of our Lidie feminine pads.”



ODDEST ADVISORS: UICI (insurance) has quotes from and allusions to an odd rogues1 gallery of financial advisors: Hugh Hefner, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ben Franklin, Maxwell Parrish, Eleanor Roosevelt, Kenny Rogers, Peter Drucker, and UICI Chairman Ron Jensen. Jensen also devotes the final page of his annual report to the wisdom of his wife, whom we only know as “GJ.”



THESAURUS AWARD: No less than eight times in as many pages. Software Spectrum informs us that they are entering a “new era.” Maybe next year they’ll graduate to epochs.

WORST MAPS: Snyder Oil details the locations of its worldwide oil operations with maps that vaguely resemble an expectant mother’s sonogram. CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE:

Pillowtex brags about licensing an angel image from the U.S. Postal Service, but did they get the permission of the original artist, a Renaissance painter by the name of Raphael?

BEST GEO PHOTO:Dallas Semiconductor’s Vin Protho appears dressed in an anti-contaminant suit, looking like he just came out of an operating room. Maybe he’s vying for a guest shot on ER.



PRIDE IN PRODUCTS: Quaker State saved money on expensive models by featuring 206 bottles of various petroleum products in its annua! report. Sure, there’s nothing more enticing than a bunch of bottles of crude oil. but how about some variety?



BEST OVERSTATEMENT OF THE OBVIOUS:

According to CEO W. Ray Wallace, Trinity Industries is “driven by our enduring business philosophy: to expand through internal growth and acquisition; to be the low-cost producer of high-quality products, supported by unsurpassed customer service; and to maximize production flexibility.” Apparently. Wallace has had the revolutionary idea that a company should do good things that make money.



BEST EUPHEMISM:

In an elegant annual report that looks like it was designed for Tiffany’s, we learn that Cash America International Inc. is the market leader in the non-traditional specialty finance segment of secured non-recourse lending to individuals.1″ Wow. We thought they were just a pawn shop.

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