When I was working in Russia in the mid-1990s, the airwaves were filled with advertisements for newly available foreign-made products. One such product, whose commercials were replayed over and over on television, was a German candy by the name of Kinder Surprise -- a hollow chocolate egg with a toy inside. "Kinder," as in "kindergarten," referred to the target audience for most candy: children. As for the "Surprise," well, it wasn't so much whether an egg would contain a toy -- they all did -- as it was discovering just how wonderful a toy awaited.
As an investor, I can empathize with the Russian kids' feelings when they got their hands on a Kinder egg -- I get that same feeling when clicking the hyperlink to gas pipeliner Kinder Morgan's
The company's Q2 2005 report was no exception, containing news even better than the company's report from three months ago. Profits continued to grow at double-digit rates, accelerating from the 15% gain in Q1 to rise 18% in Q2, against the respective year-ago periods. That should have been a most welcome surprise for any investors who had based their expectations on analyst estimates. This year, analysts expect earnings to rise just 13%; in the long term, they expect that rate to slow down to 12%.
What should come as no surprise to anyone who follows this remarkably successful company and its just as remarkably forthright CEO, Richard Kinder, is how the company presented its good news. Many PR departments would have led with the obvious headline: "Profits Rise 18%." But Kinder Morgan? No way. This company headlined its press release "Second Quarter EPS Up 13%," and it also pointed out that the company has raised its dividend yet again, this time to $3.00 annually.
How did Kinder Morgan arrive at its muted "Up 13%" announcement? By reversing the usual order of press releases, in which the norm is to trumpet the good news in a boldfaced headline and then hide qualifiers in the fine print of the text. Bucking that trend, Kinder led with the number you would get after backing out one-time gains on the company's sale of some 1.7 million shares of sister company Kinder Morgan Management
Some might be surprised to see a company forgo a chance to hype its stock. Kinder Morgan shareholders aren't.
Want to see how Kinder Morgan fared in the Fool's recent Stock Madness contest? Read the almost-Cinderella story in:
- Stock Madness 2005: Kinder Morgan vs. Sirius Satellite Radio
- Stock Madness 2005: Colgate-Palmolive vs. Kinder Morgan
- Stock Madness 2005: Kinder Morgan vs. Starbucks
F ool contributor Rich Smith has no position in either of the companies mentioned in this article.