The purpose of a team is not goal attainment but goal alignment. Tom DeMarco
When most people are in grade school, you get used to your teacher having you line up outside the class. Lining up is a form of order, precision, discipline. You can see this in the various armed forces routines, for example, when training fresh recruits to become accustomed to how things are done. The idea of lining up applies globally as well, especially in the military, and has for decades. One needs only to remember our history classes and the films remembering World War One and Two battles and subsequent victory celebrations. Even today, when we see various shows of force from tyrants around the globe, it always involves soldiers marching in line. So, why does this matter to the investment world? Good question, and I am glad you asked it friendly reader, so let me move on to the importance of alignment in the financial world.
Many problems regarding financial matters center around misalignment. The same way a car does not run well when the wheels are not aligned correctly, investors, companies, and even massive pension funds suffer the consequences when what needs to be aligned with precision is not. For investors in stocks, one of the big problems you see is when the management team does not have a large financial ownership position of the company. Often times this occurs with the egregious granting of options, thereby diluting existing shareholders. It also takes place when compensation of management is based solely on short term stock performance versus long term operational metrics combined with long term stock appreciation. With respect to companies, when expenses are not aligned with revenues, say for example, costs are in euros but revenues are in pounds, a company can suffer severe consequences. Much of what transpired with Lehman Brothers during 2008 was because of overwhelming debt, an abundance of which was short term in nature, called repos. All across the country, many of the largest state pension funds suffer from underfunding. It is because their liabilities (payments to their pensioners) are locked in the highest levels of members pay, and the assets to support those distributions have to grow at rates which are going to be difficult to achieve (you might have read about the 2 billion dollar investment by a pension fund which went to, ahem, ZERO). So you see, alignment is a very important issue in the financial world, and for anyone interested in investment results, one to evaluate carefully.
In the financial markes this week, Mario Monti made news by declaring tapering was certainly on the table because of improvements in economies across Europe. One can see this with the strength of the versus the dollar, now at 1.16, at it’s yearly high. Netflix (NASDAQ:) turned in a monster subscriber number and led the advance all week. Long time component,Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:), met expectations and guided higher for the rest of the year. Interestingly, analysts downgraded it on valuation levels. Amazonitis (NASDAQ:) continues to afflict the financial world, this time when Sears decided to offer it’s Kenmore appliance line with the beast that ate modern retail, do it yourself monsters Home Depot Inc (NYSE:), Lowe’s Companies Inc (NYSE:), and even electronics powerhouse Best Buy Co Inc (NYSE:) got dinged. Amazonitis grows more deadly by the passing week, especially to unsuspecting investors. Next week brings an avalanche of earnings reports, from the most well known companies across the land. It will be interesting to see what transpires, but I expect earnings will hold up pretty well, especially if everything is lined up properly.
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