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The (last 20 or so minutes of the) MER Conference Call

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They said it was impossible but god damn it, Stanley O’Neal doesn’t know the meaning of the word. Yes, people, Merrill Lynch reported the biggest quarterly loss in the history of Merrill Lynch today following a $8.4 billion writedown. The $2.24 billion, $2.82/share loss was a whopping six times higher than the Lynchettes estimated on October 5. I’d never listened to a conference call before, not even the Global Alpha one, mostly because I think I’m too good for them, but I figured if there was ever a time to listen to a bunch of guys rationalize the way they put a bunch of money in a paper bag and lit it on fire, it was now. Plus, someone told me that Stan O’Neal would be making a rare appearance, and I wanted to see if he’d last any longer than 2-Minute Man Jimmy Cayne. Unfortunately, I was a little late getting into the office this morning, and didn’t plug my headphones in ‘til, oh, I don’t know, 10:38. Sure, the whole thing was being recorded, and if I wanted to, I could’ve listened to it from the beginning, but it’s like Carney always says, “Why bother?” So I’ll just tell you what I liked about the call from the time I started listening:
I Liked when:
- CFO Jeff Edwards pats Merrill Lynch on the back for providing “an extraordinarily high level of disclosure.”
- A Deutsche Bank analyst, Mike Mayo, says to Edwards, “Your peers didn’t take an $8 billion writedown.”
That’s a lot of ‘tude for a Deutsche Bank analyst, but then again, this is textbook Mike. Guy's not afraid to sound like an asshole when it comes to earnings (or lackthereof). LIKE IT. Understand it. Identify with it.
- Jeff Edwards calls Citigroup analyst Prashant Bhatia “son.” So dismissive. Don’t just like it, LOVE IT.
- A smoke alarm system test is heard over the Merrill Lynch loudspeaker. Everyone laughs, but if this were taking place in California, it probably wouldn’t be as funny, and it probably wouldn't be a test.
Merrill Lynch Reports Loss on $8.4 Billion Writedown [Bloomberg]
Merrill Lynch posts $2.3 bln quarterly loss [Reuters]