Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Today's Question

Actually it's a two-part question.

As I indicated yesterday, I think it's great that Patrick Byrne, CEO of Overstock Inc., made cryptic comments yesterday and Sunday night, saying that big stuff was happening on Monday -- presumably stuff favorable to Overstock's beleaguered shareholders.

Well, Overstock shares went up quite dramatically yesterday, though that was probably for largely unrelated reasons. And -- nothing happened, at least to my knowledge.

Anyway, here's my question. Is it kosher under Regulation FD for a CEO to communicate potentially market-moving news in this fashion? Should the propriety of Byrne's actions be explored by regulators?

I certainly don't have an answer to the first question, but I think the second question is a hearty "yes." (And by the way, I hope he gets a clean bill of health. I think clearly worded press releases are passe'. Give me a cryptic comment on the Internet any day!)

Still waiting for that big news, by the way.

P.S. At least two dozen regulatory people read this blog, judging from the email addresses on the mailing list. Come on, guys! Pitch in with some thoughts on this subject. Anonymous comments are OK, but keep 'em clean, please.

UPDATE: Still waiting for the "big news." Meanwhile, on March 15 -- responding to Herb Greenberg raising the Regulation FD issue on CNBC -- Byrne addressed the point through one of his favorite methods of communication, the attack-dog "sanitycheck" website. Its courageously anonymous proprietor said as follows, in the midst of an extented anti-Greenberg smear:
For the record, I spoke with Byrne, and the big news he is expecting has nothing to do with OSTK. Except in the sense that naked short selling has something to do with it.

Nice of Byrne to more or less "clarify," wouldn't you say? Of course, according to Byrne, "naked shorting" is very much material to the company's stock trading. It certainly appears to be a primary reason some unsophisticated retail investors are buying the shares.

Anyway, I look forward to continued cryptic remarks on the Internet by Byrne, and I hope that other CEOs pick up on his modern and high-tech method of more or less communicating with investors and the public.


Wall Street Versus America will be published by Penguin USA on April 6.
Click here for its Amazon.com listing and here for more information on the book, from my web site.

Labels: , ,

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner