With enemies like this, who needs friends?
That's the question the naked-short-Sith-Lord-crooked-journalism-conspirators must be asking themselves after Patrick Byrne, CEO of Motley Fool Rule Breakers pick Overstock.com
Last week, Overstock said it had some significant delays in an IT infrastructure upgrade, causing a five-week delay in the loading of new merchandise. So far today, the stock has dropped 8%.
Were this the only issue, I'd be willing to cut the company more slack. After all, Motley Fool Stock Advisor pick Gap
My colleague Rick Munarriz has already sliced and diced the numbers, and doesn't think this situation is that big a deal. Personally, I view the release as a bigger stinker. Since when is having a warehouse "stuffed to the gills" a good thing? I also view the evidence of gross margin disappointment as yet more proof that this business isn't scaling as well as everyone hopes it will, something my colleague John Reeves discussed here.
But there's more to chew on here than a few numbers. This news was buried at the bottom of a cheerily titled press release, then slipped out on Friday afternoon, on options expiration day (cue Twilight Zone theme), after market close, as everyone was heading out for the weekend.
"Overstocked with bargains?" For someone who talks about Sith Lords as often as Byrne has in recent weeks, this is a pretty obvious attempt at the old Jedi mind trick. [Waves hand] "There's nothing to see here." [Waves hand] "These aren't the sales and inventory numbers you're looking for."
Is this the kind of straight-up disclosure we should expect from Byrne? Someone who works hard to style himself as an anti-Wall Street maverick, a guy who doesn't play all those games that everyone else plays?
Unfortunately, it's the kind of disclosure I've come to expect. My shenanigans detectors first started going off with Overstock about a year ago -- I was long the stock at the time, mind you -- because Byrne bragged about "kneeing shorts in the groin" with a well-timed sales release. That was enough for me, and I sold. Last Friday's release is simply more of the same, and I take a pretty dim view of the timing and the spin.
With the recent lawsuit, the myriad accusations of journalist-abetted, front-running conspiracies, naked short conspiracies, uber-criminal Sith Lords, and Heaven knows what else, an investment in Overstock is, for many investors, no longer a stake in a financial entity. It's a vote of "Give 'em Hell!" confidence for the CEO and, according to many people who've written to me, a way to "fight back" against "the financial thugs that are ruining America." (If you really believe the stock's being gamed by criminals, owning it seems more like standing in an alley with your hands bound, asking to be mugged repeatedly. But I digress.)
To those who invest for financial gain rather than as proof of politics, I suggest you look past the bluster. Keep your eyes on the business and what the CEO says about it. Do you still believe? If so, why?
We're never understocked on Overstock coverage: