It is now illegal for a business to tell the Big Guys anything before they tell me. Yeah, baby! You gotta love that! So to make sure they don’t end up in Martha’s cell block, the CEOs now hold a quarterly conference call open to anyone.
The magic of technology lets me and you sign in for the call just like a Big Guy — and we can even ask questions. But usually I let the Big Guys ask since they get paid for it and usually ask lots of harder questions than I can ever think of.
The call starts with summary of how my business (remember its ALL MINE (or yours) is doing. Since the language these guys use to say how they are doing is business language, it can sound incomprehensible and scary. But it isn’t after you’ve had a bit of language training. Really good businesses that really do believe their owners should know what’s going on even transcribe the call for us to read later (or even listen to). The briefing below is from Whole Foods. I’m going to translate it for you guys. (I chopped it wherever it got boring) My comments will be in bold.
Script for Conference Call on 4Q05 Press Release
Good afternoon. Joining me today are Walter Robb and A.C. Gallo, Co-Presidents and Chief Operating Officers, Glenda Flanagan, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, Jim Sud, Executive Vice President of Growth & Business Development, Lee Valkenaar, Executive Vice President of Global Support, and Cindy McCann, Vice President of Investor Relations.
They always introduce the speakers. Sometimes the speakers are beyond belief boring speakers who would probably be better off using an alias. "Me" is probably John Mackey, the CEO, but I’m not sure since I didn’t listen in. The rest of the gang are there because they run the biz and it’s their job to show the Big Guys that they know what they are doing and can answer their questions really well, so the Big Guys will go away and write nice solid recommendations.
First for the legalities: The following constitutes a "Safe Harbor" statement under the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Except for the historical information contained herein, the matters discussed in this press release are forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties, which could cause our actual results to differ materially from those described in the forward looking statements. These risks include but are not limited to general business conditions, the timely development and opening of new stores, the impact of competition, and other risks detailed from time to time in the Company’s SEC reports, including the report on Form 10K-A Amendment No. 2 for the fiscal year ended September 26, 2004. The Company does not undertake any obligation to update forward-looking statements. Please note that our press release includes an income statement, balance sheet and cash flow statement, all of which are now available on our website at www.wholefoodsmarket.com along with the scripted portion of this call.
This paragraph is required. It’s on all the calls. Idiot judges and juries (mostly juries – meaning our fellow citizens) make these stupid things necessary by awarding big prizes to clever attornies’ clients when they didn’t deserve it. Don’t get me started. (Except to say if you want your health insurance bill to go down demand a cap on medical awards by juries. Insurance companies have to charge us a lot when they don’t know how much they might have to pay and doctors have to charge us a lot when they have to pay huge insurance premiums.) This thing is like the form you sign before you go on a raft trip. It says there are uncertainties, like the guides might be stupid and kill you. Too bad. You can’t sue me.
Good afternoon and thank you for joining us. I am hoping you all have had a chance to read our earnings press release as well as the press release announcing our new cash management strategy. Rather than repeat all of the information included in those releases, I will focus on adding some additional color on the quarter, fiscal year and our thoughts on the future. We apologize for the complex accounting issues, but the bottom line is that we produced very strong results this year. Our guidance going into fiscal 2005 was for annual sales growth in the range of 15 percent to 20 percent and earnings growth slightly below that. We met or exceeded that guidance with sales growth over 20 percent and pro forma EPS growth just below that.
The thing to notice here is that WFMI did better than expected this year. Don’t worry about the wall street jargon. Anything you don’t understand that you need to, I’ll explain. If I don’t, you don’t need to understand it to know whether this is a wonderful business.
To recap our fourth quarter results, we once again produced strong top and bottom line growth. Despite the negative impact from Hurricane Katrina, sales increased 20 percent driven by 13 percent weighted average year-over-year square footage growth and 13.4 percent comparable store sales growth. This was our eighth consecutive quarter of double-digit comps. We continue to see strength in sales across all regions, all departments and all age classes of stores. Our new stores continue to open with very strong sales — averaging $590,000 per week in the quarter compared to $542,000 for all stores. Our sales per gross square feet in fiscal 2005 were $869.
"Top and bottom line" – useful jargon to know. "Top line" comes from the fact that on the income statement – the financial report that says if you made any profits or not – the first (or top) line is the revenues – total bucks in the door . "Bottom line" refers to the last line on the same statement. It’s the Earnings (the profits after everything is paid for) line. So essentially top line is total sales and bottom line is total profits.
The point being made by John is that they are kicking butt out there even though a few of their stores shut down for the quarter.
MORE TOMORROW IN PART TWO…
Phil Town is an investment advisor, hedge fund manager, 3x NY Times Best-Selling Author, ex-Grand Canyon river guide, and former Lieutenant in the US Army Special Forces. He and his wife, Melissa, share a passion for horses, polo, and eventing. Phil’s goal is to help you learn how to invest and achieve financial independence.