Fool.com: A Letter to Shareholders [Fribble] March 10, 2000

Fribble A Letter to Shareholders
(Having a great time, wish you were here -- not)

By Jerry Thomas (TMF Cheeze)
March 10, 2000

[Editor's Note: Here's a classic Fribble that first ran on May 6, 1996]

The following was discovered amid a stack of old annual reports in my hall closet. For some reason, this company is not listed on any of the current exchanges.

TO OUR SHAREHOLDERS:

I am pleased to report another stellar year for Binge Industries, Incorporated. The strong progress we have shown in the months since our last report is proof of our ability to advance the interests of this firm over the long term.

True, December's sudden and unforeseen collapse of our entire organization will be regarded by some as a sign of weakness; however, we feel that this dramatic disintegration of our prospects has revealed to us a wide spectrum of intriguing opportunities that only weeks ago would have struck us as too ridiculously insignificant to bother with. With such a singular advantage clutching at our throats, I can now honestly say that things are looking up.

This year was marked by a number of outstanding achievements. For starters, the drop in our productivity was held to a scant 90%. We have seen the rate of loss diminish substantially in several of our key operations, and the recent court-ordered divestiture of those few of our holdings that were actually profitable has provided us with the working capital needed to fend off our creditors well into the second quarter. And, as if to underscore the brilliant promise of our future, our investment bankers have assured us that while our return on shareholder equity is rapidly approaching the negative triple digits, it is mathematically impossible for our price per share to drop below zero.

Thanks to this unexpected run of surprisingly good luck, Binge Industries hereby reaffirms its ongoing commitment to securing for its shareholders whatever remains of their initial investment.

This was a watershed year for our industry. Our former market dominance has been challenged by mad hordes of upstart competitors who recklessly insist on supplying to their customers quality goods at a fair price. While we blanch at such counterintuitive business concepts, we do not set the rules of engagement and must meet our adversaries in the arena where the game is played. We responded by creating a paradigm-demolishing new approach to product design intended to dazzle the consumer with astonishing new solutions to the age-old problems of daily life. We called this process "HIWAS" (for, "Hey -- It's Worth A Shot"), and used it to bring to market a stunning array of I-just-gotta-have-them products including:

*Vitaplotz -- the first vitamin-fortified laxative

*The Ricochet Sling -- a bulletproof women's foundation undergarment with a pert, sassy profile and the elegant look of burnished zinc

*"GLOP!" -- an undifferentiated, petroleum-based, semi-solid, colloidal mass hawked with the slogan, "It's an ointment -- no, it's a paste!"

With full confidence in our new arsenal of killer merchandise, we strode boldly into the marketplace to do battle. Focus groups were awed into stupefied silence. Distribution channels were fed almost to choking in anticipation of a calamitous demand. A national media blitz brought "Binge Chic" into the homes and hearts of every American. Then came April 1 -- Launch Day.

We are still not exactly sure where we went wrong.

Experience is a stern teacher, and we must learn from her what we can. For example, we now know that the critic who referred to our marketing effort as "the desperate gropings of a staggering behemoth lurching toward oblivion" was obviously misinformed. On the bright side, the severe losses we sustained were somewhat mitigated by the subsequent easing of manpower requirements in our Accounting Department, as it quickly became evident that there would be no need to tote any receivables.

Despite these reversals, the year was not without its successes. Our recent "Love a Mutant" campaign near our troubled Snide Lake Nuclear Power Facility has brought about a wider public acceptance of the more benign aspects of nuclear disaster. Also, we have been able to positively impact our reported earnings by reducing our allowance for bad debts to a negative number (an industry first). Furthermore, we expect our cash flow problems to ease considerably, pending shareholder approval of the sale of 1.3 billion additional shares of common stock.

These measures, coupled with our aggressive "feel-good" approach to accounting, should provide us with the capital required to move our Global Corporate Headquarters next month according to schedule, to a small room above a hardware store in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

As much as we enjoy thrashing in the mire of our current success, this is no time for complacency. We still have thousands of workers who have not been dismissed; we still have dozens of products that must be discontinued. We must boldly surrender our market share to our competitors without flinching from our steadfast resolve to duck from this challenge. Above all other considerations, it is vital that we maintain the solvency of this enterprise long enough to ensure that all of its executive severance arrangements will be honored.

In a purely defensive procedure, I have directed CFO Bob Hinkle to transfer the remainder of our liquid corporate assets to an offshore account on an undisclosed Caribbean island nation. I am directing the affairs of Binge, Inc., from this location even as this report is being prepared. It is our hope that this move will foster a new degree of transnational synergy, and allow for the free exercise of our corporate prerogatives beyond the reach of the more vexing restraints of certain United States law enforcement interests.

Do not try to find us. We are desperate, desperate people. You do not know what measures we might be willing to take should anybody try anything funny.

Here's to continued success in the coming year!

Sincerely,

Abner Phipps
President and Chief Executive Officer
Binge Industries, Incorporated