Wednesday, March 03, 2004

TigerHawk is in Miami Beach for the Lehman Brothers Global Health Care Conference 

You would think that this would be a great time, and it would be if I were staying at the beautiful Loews Miami Beach Hotel, which is where the conference is held. However, we have an extremely conservative travel policy at our company -- all part of building shareholder value -- and I am charged with enforcing it, so I did not book a room at the Loews, which goes for more than three bills a night. No, I'm spending $99 to stay at something down the street called the Hotel Utell International Carlton Hotel (yes, there are apparently two "Hotels" in the name).

You know it isn't a boondoggle situation when the biggest sign out front says "We Have Color TV." No remote control for the TV, though. Which should not be a surprise, since the sign did not say "We Have Color TVs with Remote Control."

In any case, I am fairly certain that this, all in, is the worst hotel that any executive of any profitable public company has ever stayed at. If it weren't right on Miami Beach it would go for $20 a night.

The conference itself is both interesting and challenging.

Like most gatherings of this sort, the attendees consist of executives from public companies in a particular industry (the "speakers") on the one hand, and portfolio managers and "buy side" analysts from mutual funds, hedge funds and other institutional investors on the other hand. The conference creates a convenient mechanism for institutional investors to meet with the managements of the companies that they invest in, or are thinking about investing in.

So the interesting part is that you get to hear from investors directly and specifically about your company and others in your industry. The challenging part is that they pepper you with questions, both in private "one-on-one" meetings and during a formal presentation. Of course, they are digging for information that will lead them to an advantageous insight into your company's prospects. Your goal, as the executive, is to leave them feeling optimistic about their investment in your company without giving them any material information about your company that you have not already disclosed to the public. If you mess up and give up something you are not supposed to give up, Regulation FD requires that you issue a press release confessing your inadvertant disclosure. Not only is this embarrassing to the company, but your CEO gets very grumpy and probably does not allow you to speak at conferences any more.

It is lunch time, and I believe that we had successful one-on-ones this morning, at least according to the standard described above. I give our formal presentation this afternoon. If anything interesting happens, I'll blog it later. Unless I make an inadvertant disclosure of material non-public information, in which case I will be writing a press release, after which I will shoot myself.

UPDATE: We survived both the formal presentation and the "break out" session without a Reg FD violation, and yet managed to answer all the questions, tricky and otherwise, that investors hurled in our direction. So I'm not writing a press release tonight, and still have no reason to shoot myself.

The hotel situation remains perilous. A concerned reader asked if there were any bugs. None other than the two-centimeter cockroach in my sink this morning. Most people would have considered the bathroom cockroach to be an atrocity worth reporting in my first post, but I am so unruffled by cockroaches, at least when they travel alone, that it completely slipped my mind. You see, TigerHawk's sister is an entymologist, so in our family we consider most -- if not all -- non-bloodsucking insects to be "angels straight from heaven." Anyway, I grabbed the cockroach by his antenna and dropped him into the waste basket. Next stop, the dumpster, so I assume everything actually worked out quite well for the little guy.

I am more troubled by the profound lack of security at the Hotel Utell International Carlton Hotel. After my presentation I went for a run on the beach. I returned to find one of the hotel employees opening my hotel room with a pass key, a couple of prospective guests in tow. Apparently the management feels that my room is particularly attractive. I wonder if the prospective guests -- a very polite gay couple -- decided to go elsewhere. One thing is certain, nobody in their right mind would stay here on their honeymoon!


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