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Quote of the Day

Perhaps the most famous earnings call in history took place on this day in 2001:

“You…you…you. Well, uh…thank you very much. We appreciate it. Asshole.”

– Jeffrey Skilling on April 17th, 2001 – in response to analyst Richard Grubman after he asked why Enron does not produce a balance sheet or cash flow statement with their earnings. Read below for more.

April 17th – This Day in Stock Market History

April 17th, 1991 – The Dow Jones Industrial Average closes above 3,000 for the first time.

Despite closing at 2,999.75 on July 17th 1990, it took the market some time to finally close over the 3000 mark after fears about the Gulf War took the Dow down to 2,365 in October 1990.

It wasn’t until the spring of 1991 and the U.S. overwhelmingly defeating Saddam Hussein’s forces that the market would regain confidence to climb higher. 

Source: The Market’s Measure

New York Times coverage of the Dow closing above 3,000 for the first time.

April 17th, 2001 – Jeffrey Skilling, CEO of Enron calls Richard Grubman an asshole on a public earnings conference call.

A recap of the event by the Enron Online Blog:

Highfields Capital analyst Richard Grubman joined a conference call at Enron and asked, for the sixth consecutive quarter, for a balance sheet with the earnings statement. For the sixth time, Jeff Skilling told him that at Enron, the balance sheet was not released with earnings statements (at trial, the reasons for this were covered at length; there was nothing illegal or untoward about it – there was a very deliberate business purpose for doing things the way Enron did.) The following is a transcript of the challenged part of the call:

Grubman: You’re the only financial institution that can’t produce a balance sheet or cash flow statement with their earnings.

Skilling: You…you…you. [One can imagine this is the point when Mark Palmer, VP of PR at Enron, handed Skilling a note, reminding him who he was dealing with.] Well, uh…thank you very much. We appreciate it. Asshole.

At this point, everyone inside the Enron building was jumping up and down and high-fiving each other because their CEO had finally said something to this guy who had been talking down the stock for quite some time – and even the question was a sort of accusation. Enron folks thought Skilling handled the call just fine. Of course, it wasn’t as well received in the rest of the business world.

You can listen to a recording of the infamous line in this clip from The Smartest Guys in the Room:

On that day, Enron stock was trading around $60 per share, but had fallen from as high as $90 just 6 months prior. After briefly closing above 60 for 1 day in early May, Enron stock would never see a share price in the 60’s again.

For other Enron related 'This Day in Stock Market History' pages:

Best April 17th in Dow Jones Industrial Average History

2000 - Up 2.69% or 276.74 points

Worst April 17th in Dow Jones Industrial Average History

1933- Down 2.05% or 1.29 points

Read of the Day

The story of Enron's rise and fall is detailed in the book: The Smartest Guys in the Room which was also made into a documentary.

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