NYT Dealbook interviews Stanley Druckenmiller

On Tuesday of this week, the New York Times-sponsored Dealbook conference featured a particularly fascinating interview by columnist Andrew Ross Sorkin with well-known hedge fund manager Stanley Druckenmiller. Druckenmiller’s remarks dealt with several important issues the JACF has addressed over recent years.

On the subject of whether meeting Wall Street earnings expectations was a good thing—and “missing” earnings was a bad thing, Druckenmiller expressed great admiration for Amazon but not for IBM:

…the last 19 quarters, Amazon has missed their quarterly earnings nine times. They don’t give a damn…IBM has missed three quarters since 2006. They really care about their quarterly earnings.
[IBM] are under major attack from Amazon, Palantir, all these companies out there are eating away…Their R&D has shrunk in absolute terms and as a percentage of their sales.”
Oh yeah, I love Amazon because they’re investing in their future.

Druckenmiller said the same holds for Netflix:

“Same thing. I only heard 30 seconds of [Netflix CEO Reed Hastings]… but he said, ‘If you manage for quarterly earnings, you’re dead.’ Then somebody on CNBC says, ‘Well, it’s easy for him to say with a stock price like that.’ Well, why do you think he has a stock price like that? Because he thought about the long term and not cared about quarterly earnings and all this short-termism the whole time.”

It is unfortunate that so many business people seem to find Druckenmiller’s well-founded opinions surprising.

For a more formal and extensive treatment of exactly this topic, please read Three Common Misconceptions About Markets (or Why Earnings Smoothing, Guidance, and Concern About Meeting Consensus Estimates are Likely to Be Counterproductive) from our Summer 2013 issue, by Tim Koller, Bin Jiang, and Rishi Raj.

Some of the same ideas were expressed earlier in the JACF and actually put into practice at General Electric. See Financial Planning and Investor Communications at GE (With a Look at Why We Ended Earnings Guidance) by GE’s then CFO Keith Sherin in our Fall 2010 issue.

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