Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Byrne's Hobby Takes a Dive

OK, I am a bit late with this, but what the hell.

I see that my favorite chief executive/conspiracy theorist/journalist-taunter/short-and-analyst-suer/"miscreant"-blamer learned on Nov. 6 that his hobby of running Overstock.com (as opposed to his profession of pushing conspiracy theories and posting on crackpot message boards) did not do so well in the third quarter.

Patrick Byrne's claim on the coveted title of Worst CEO of the Year was further solidified by the lousy numbers, which nauseated even the most hardened Overstock-watchers.

As usually happens with CEOs who whine about short-selling, reality has a way of coming back and smacking the exec -- and his shareholders -- right in the kisser.

Sorry if I don't shed any tears for what has got to be some of the dumbest shareholders I have ever encountered outside of the penny stock world (which Overstock may soon be joining, unless I miss my guess).

In fairness, I should point out that while it is perfectly clear to me that Overstock is just a hobby to the obviously hopelessly bored Byrne, as compared to his passion for nutty Wall Street conspiracy theories, he said in a conference call that he is hard at work in his office, grinding away. "I am here at Overstock and focused on this," said Byrne.

I'm not sure that's necessarily a good thing, to tell you the truth, but I am glad that he is honed in on his company, plugging away for his hapless shareholders.

UPDATE: Aw shucks. Byrne gave one of his patented drivel-spews on Nov. 10, in an interview with an Internet radio outfit and rent-an-analyst shop that pushes penny stocks for a price ($20,000 a pop, according to disclosures buried deep down on the site).

Makes sense Byrne is kicking in with such characters, given that Overstock.com is poster child of Future Penny Stocks of America. So, two days after promising to "focus," looks like the Byrne focus is driffffffftinnnnnnng again. Surprise surprise. He even called Senator so-and-so a.... ehh, who cares? Important thing is that, as usual with this laughingstock of a CEO, everything he says is usually -- as they used to say in the Vietnam War -- "inoperative."

Here's Herb Greenberg's take on Byrne's latest wackiness, plus a thought-provoking insight from a convicted felon named Sam Antar, ex-CFO of Crazy Eddie:

"Is he an irrational man running a public company or a rational liar?

"Maybe he is an irrational liar?

"I cannot get into his head. These things as questions to be considered.

"However, as an ex-felon and former liar myself I will repeat Rule #5 of spinning posted earlier in your commentary – 'More Overstock: Why Investors got Byrned':

“'When you can no longer spin and are exhausted you shut up and offer no guidance to investors.'

Perhaps it should apply to irrational people too."

Amen.


© 2006 Gary Weiss. All rights reserved.

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Wall Street Versus America was 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.

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