It's no secret that we here at the dealbreaker dot com deplore the use of vulgarities. Any kind of effin' and jeffin' leaves us clutching our pearls and wishing that there weren't so many heathens in the world.
But when it comes to CEOs of public companies dropping F-bombs and talking literal "shit" on earnings calls? Well, count us in, you filthy animals!
And thanks to some pretty baller research from the good people over at CNBC, we have a definitive little study of how much cursing goes on when executives are forced to get on a party line and look back at the last three months. The results are fucking great:
Analysts and investors listening in to the latest round of earnings calls may have heard wildcatter and Halcon Resources CEO Floyd Wilson describe his company's properties with colorful language or CBS's Leslie Moonves curse at Fox for its great World Series ratings. Profanity usage seems to be up this year from 2014 or 2015, but is still down from earlier in the decade, according to an analysis of Seeking Alpha transcripts by CNBC.
Hey, 2016 sucked ass in almost every possible way, so we buy this. But tell us more! How good is the cursing...and who's doing it...and is more than half of it directed specifically at Mike Mayo?
The most common uncouth word to show up in conference calls over the last 10 years was "damn," as in "pretty damn profitable." Words like "a--" and "s---" also showed up hundreds of times across more than 100,000 transcripts in both positive and negative contexts ( as in "we kicked a--!").
Using a fairly wide definition of profanity that includes most words that are frowned upon in polite society, it's clear that a small number of companies are responsible for a good portion of foul language in conference calls. These include Cypress Semiconductor, Titan International, Scotts Miracle-Gro, Wynn Resorts and Emerson Electric. Major household names like T-Mobile and Yum Brands are also relatively high on the list.
Intriguing. But what about the holy grail?
While profanity in earnings calls seems to be on the rise compared to the last few years, we didn't find any CEOs who had used an f-word in the last three years.
But our favorite part of this study is the conclusion of what effect cursing has on people listening:
Intuitively, the use of R-rated language in a conference call has the possibility to cast corporate leaders in a negative light if the profanity seems inappropriate or unprofessional. On the other hand, there is some evidence that using profanity selectively can make a person seem more intense and persuasive.
If asked whether swear words make a person seem more trustworthy, people will often say no, but if asked to rate the credibility of statements with and without swearwords, the profanity actually seems to make the information seem more believable.
Fuckin' A! And if you want proof, CNBC offered this:
That's how a man talks.