It was a tough week for CEOs (and maybe even more so for their PR people). First, there was the news that ML&P honcho David Cole was given $4.1 million in bonuses just months before his company fired 274 employees. A few days later, the United Airlines pilots union called for the head of Chief Executive Glenn Tilton. In a statement reported in Pacific Business News, union Chairman Steve Wallach charged Tilton with having a “proven record of incompetence” and turning the airline into “a shell of its former self.” The union has even created a Web site detailing Tilton’s alleged failures (www.glenntilton.com). Calls to Tilton soliciting a rebuttal were not returned, but we’ll allow it’s possible some of the critiques lodged against him are unfair or at least slightly exaggerated. But Glenn, buddy…when your employees have staked out a piece of cyber real estate dedicated wholly to hating you, it’s probably time to move on. And finally, there’s Hawaii Tourism Authority CEO Rex Johnson, who’s catching heat for sending some adult material over the company e-mail. Pretty minor stuff compared to the infractions of his peers, but still—you’re a wealthy man, Rex, presumably with a very nice home computer fully capable of forwarding naughty messages. If nothing else, you should be reprimanded for stupidity.
The skies are getting slightly friendlier: Hawaiian Airlines enjoyed an 11 percent passenger bump in the month of July, as reported in PBN. About 72,000 more riders boarded the company’s planes last month than did in July 2007. The news, while good for Hawaiian Airlines—which saw its stock rise 5.1 percent—doesn’t necessarily spell relief for the state’s sluggish tourism industry; the increase was due mostly to an uptick in inter-island travel. Still, after those doomsday June figures we reported on last week, decent news sounds a lot like great news.
As any economist will tell you after a couple drinks, you can make numbers say pretty much whatever you want. Take the July figures recently released by the Realtors Association of Maui. On the one hand, they show that sales of single-family homes in the county rose about 12 percent over the same time last year. On the other hand, the price of a single-family home dropped almost 10 percent while condo sales plummeted. Bigger picture, even with the July upswing, single-family home sales in the county are down over 20 percent for the year. Man, forget the economists—we need a couple drinks.
PBN reports that grocery goliath Whole Foods, which has plans to open four new stores in Hawaii, saw profits plummet 30 percent in its fiscal third quarter. The company blamed the dip on RFCSE (Rising Fuel Costs and the Sagging Economy for those who don’t remember the awkward acronym we coined last week) and costs associated with its acquisition of rival Wild Oats Market. Ah, corporate takeovers…such messy affairs. MTW