#corporategovernance

Sustainable air travel will require extra sick bags

Air France-KLM is looking to fund the Dutch Delft University of Technology to explore a flying wing design known as the Flying V, where passengers will sit.

Boeing dabbled with the idea in 2007 but scrapped it as it likely worked out passengers sitting out toward the wingtips would be thrown around like rag dolls in turbulent weather. Anyone who has tried to drink hot coffee during rough weather will know how even sitting toward the centre of the plane causes it to swish about, mostly in the saucer. A wing aisle seat would mean one would wear it.

Better to save shareholders’ funds Air France/KLM. Prototyping this “sustainable aircraft” might do wonders for its CSR signaling but has it considered that it must include the environmental footprint of extra sick bags and all those nasty chemicals required to clean up the mess of those who suffer motion sickness but didn’t make it in time?

Perhaps Mother Nature has given us all tips on air travel. There are many passenger jets shaped like birds. Yet no birds shaped like the Delft University of Technology design…

If Air France/KLM is so worried about the environment the best thing to do would be to close down operations.

The Virgin Group CEO Josh Bayliss said,

“It’s definitely true that right now every one of us should think hard about whether or not we need to take a flight.”

Close the airline if it means so much to save the planet.

Constructive dismissal?

CM’s view on the incompetence of Rugby Australia (RA) is well documented and reconfirmed by Alan Jones in The Australian today. It appears that Israel Folau looks more like a sacrifice to the altar of the sponsor god, Qantas.

Sponsorship money is important to sports teams but it should never get to a point where the sponsored has to make unconscionable decisions to acquiesce their paymasters. It is unethical.

CM has long held issues over Qantas’ flagrant use of shareholder capital to sponsor the CEO’s activism. It is terrible governance.

Remember the acceptance rings ahead of the same sex marriage debate that Qantas pushed so hard on us? The idea was to distribute these acceptance rings (not fully closed) to customers, clients and travellers.

CM supposed if someone were to politely decline to wear one they risked being be branded homophobic, bigoted and summarily ostracized for expressing such views. It might be that they actually support gay marriage but do not wish to express it openly. That is nothing more than a conscious choice, not categorical staunch opposition. Perhaps failure to wear the ring could cause their career takes a turn for the worse all because they don’t comply with group expression i.e. corporate slavery. The team leader who passes them over because they incorrectly assume the employee is a dissenter. That is palpable workplace bullying encouraged by a woke CEO.

What Jones points out is that the ‘wallaby court’ had already decided the outcome before a word was uttered in defence. It appears it was a ‘hearing’ conducted with the deaf.

RA CEO Raelene Castle apparently told Vanessa Hudson, chief customer officer at Qantas,

I updated her on the situation a day after the post and told her that, confidentially, Rugby AU would be working towards a process to terminate Mr Folau’s contract and that Ms Hudson can share that position with Qantas chief executive Mr Alan Joyce. Ms Hudson texted me later that day saying that she had only shared the update with Mr Joyce and he was appreciative of the transparency and he said that a speedy resolution by Rugby AU was paramount.”

This says a lot about Qantas. If it wants to exert control over RA it should acquire it and manage it as a subsidiary.

Yet where was the pushback by RA? It flaked. If it understood the dwindling fan numbers meant it wasn’t connecting to revenue, it might have thought defending Folau might have been its greatest coup and that many non virtue signaling corporates could replace Qantas’ sponsorship.

The culture of RA is self evident. It is not about rugby anymore but a platform for identity politics.No wonder fans are deserting it. CM discusses dwindling fan numbers yesterday, something Jones alluded to. Put simply, the product stinks and that rot permeates from the top. Fans aren’t stupid.

Coach Michael Cheika’s abysmal win/loss record is tolerated because he tows the line of the C-level cabal. So do some of the players who threatened to boycott the team if Folau was allowed to keep playing.What a joke! These virtue signaling players if given the choice to stand by their beliefs or keep their lucrative contracts would choose the latter every time. They sounded just like those Hollywoodcelebrities that threatened to leave America if Trump won the presidency.Hypocrites.

However it only reinforces the reality of the culture within the RA that encourages this type of numb skulled response to pander to the top. If these players wanted to think about faith in context of not selling out core beliefs they could learn muchfrom Israel Folau.

It increasingly looks like the high level breach has been committed by the board in cahoots with Qantas.

As CM mentioned yesterday, perhaps receivership is the best outcome for RA. That way the apparatchiks get cleared out and replaced by people that connect with fans who ultimately pay the keep the lights on at HQ. It isn’t that hard to fix RA’s problems but it will be impossible with a leadership team which seems to support constructive dismissal at the behest of corporates that champion activism rather than principle. Clearly Qantas is the mean “spirit of Australia”

Get woke, go broke.

Ding dong the switch is dead

Morgan Stanley has finally lowered its bearish scenario on Tesla from $97 to $10. CM wrote in October 2017 that the shares based on production of 500,000 vehicles was worth no more than $28 (refer to report page 5). That was based on rosy scenarios. Sadly CM thinks Tesla will be bought for a song by the Chinese. Maybe $4.20 a share instead of $420 “funding secured” levels.

The stock breached $200 yesterday for the first time since late 2016.

Morgan Stanley analyst, Adam Jonas, has still kept its base case scenario at $230 per share. His bull case is $391.

Where is the conviction? To drop a bear case target by 90% must surely mean the base case is far lower than presently assumed.

Jonas must assume the bear case is actually the base case. Sell side brokers love to hide behind scenario analysis to cop out having to get off the fence. His compliance department probably prevents him from realizing $10 is his true heart.

Tesla was always playing in a market that it had no prior experience. It is not to say the products didn’t have promise. The problem was the execution. Too much senior management turnover, missed targets, poor quality and too many Tweets from Musk.

The amount of bad press arising from a lack of service centers has driven customers to moan on social media at its amateur approach. The fragile dreams of being an early adopter are being shattered. Cash burn remains high and deliveries remain low. Some pundits think Tesla orders are under real pressure in 2Q 2019.

The recent all share deal with Maxwell Technologies has seen those holders -20% since the transaction a few weeks ago. CM argued how a company with such revolutionary technology could sell itself for all shares in a debt-ridden loss making like Tesla? If the technology was of real value PE funds would have snapped it up or at the very least made a bid in cash. That none was made speaks volumes about what was bought.

All of the arguments hold true in the above link, “Tesla – 30 reasons why Tesla will be a bug on a windshield

Tesla below $200 after a successful cap raise is not a good sign. It’s the faithful slowly tipping out. Await another imaginary Musk-inspired growth engine to be announced shortly to try prop up the stock price. Yet the momentum will continue to sink. The market is losing confidence in Musk. The 1Q results were diabolically bad.

Major holder T Rowe Price has stampeded out the door. The stock is too risky. Musk is a brilliant salesman but he has bitten off more than he can chew.

CM always thought that Toyota selling its Tesla stake was a major sign. Acknowledging that under the hood the company possessed no technology that Toyota didn’t already own.

Watch the free fall. The Tesla stock will be below $100 by the year end.

(CM does not hold Tesla stock)

Go woke, go broke

Yet another example of why CM has cancelled his FT subscription. Where is the critical reporting? This article by Pilita Clark doesn’t critique the ridiculous movement by corporates to virtue signal but falls in line with the stupidity.

Maybe the best metaphor for the woke corporation is parsley. It often looks nice as a garnish but 99.9% of us push it to the side of the plate and leave it to be thrown away.

Corporate hypocrisy is everywhere.

Take Josh Bayliss, CEO of Virgin Group. He says,

“It’s definitely true that right now every one of us should think hard about whether or not we need to take a flight.”

Why doesn’t he close down the airlines in the portfolio? Instead of waiting for his customers to grow a conscience and do the right thing why not force their choice? The obvious answer is that it’s hypocritical.

Airlines operate on about 70% capacity load factor break even so if Virgin flights end up being half full he’ll only end up spewing more or less the same CO2 per flight and go out of business. British Airways, EasyJet and Ryanair will welcome Virgin’s virtue signaling. Go woke, go broke.

Qantas has the world’s largest carbon offset program yet only 2% of passengers elect to pay. That’s the extent of the belief in global warming.

Blackrock’s chief Larry Fink said his asset manager needs to do more than just make money yet it only backed 10% of the climate related shareholder proposals. Why? Supposedly because they would crush profits. All talk, little walk.

BP surprisingly helped prevent a carbon tax it openly launched support for. A fossil fuel company trying to undermine a carbon tax? Wow. Who’d a thunk?

UK shadow chancellor John McDonnell has said Labour would seek to delist companies from the London Stock Exchange that didn’t meet their climate change commitments. In order to meet that, will that mean a child daycare company will be burnt at the stake for not brainwashing kindergarten kids? Will there be a minimum pot plant to child ratio?

How would regulations impact the myriad of different businesses that would trigger being dumped from the LSE? What standard would be applied? CM is betting corporates jus need to “file” a governance statement on climate change which no one will read. As long as 100% of companies file, nothing will happen.

Pretty easy to avoid too. Companies could list on Nasdaq or the Singapore exchange to avoid the regulations and still raise capital. Did you think of that Mr McDonnell? No because it is all about being woke and there are plenty of alternatives to dodge stupid policy. Capital is global.

Pilita Clark closes her article by saying,

“Yet the climate debate is shifting and I am willing to bet that companies failing to match their green claims with solid action face far greater risks than they ever have before.”

Like much of the climate religion, few hard facts are ever presented except the date we are all supposed to die. Even then that is an ever-shifting goal post. We can be assured that when 2028 arrives all of a sudden we’ll have another 12 years to do something. A bit like the joke where a patient asks his doctor how long he has to live and is given an extension so he can pay his bill.

The ever-growing tide of the “woke” corporation is going to thwart ingenuity and entrepreneurship. It is corporate suicide to pander to this nonsense. It is not for companies to bang on about their wonderful commitments. Customers and shareholders can decide for themselves. Maybe if companies listened to both groups they would find profits go up. People are growing sick and tired of being told what to do. How to think.

The world is littered with corporate wokeness backfiring. The irony is much of it is self-inflicted. By trying to create false images of virtue, the results have been disastrous.

P&G had to write off billions from its Gillette brand for the toxic masculinity campaign. Before the campaign Gillette was ranked 7th out of 45 health and grooming brands. After, rock bottom.

There is almost a wave of corporate fear twisted by a minority of social activists like Sleeping Giants which create false narratives about public perceptions of evil companies. There is a flip side.

Chick-fil-A was established by Southern Baptists. They don’t ram their Christian beliefs at all in the restaurants. Activists tried to boycott the fast food outlet because one of the directors personally didn’t support same-sex marriage. Guess what, store numbers have doubled and revenues tripled over the last decade.

Chick-fil-A states it’s mission is, “To glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us. To have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A.”

Chick-fil-A is notable by its closure on Sundays, Thanksgiving and Christmas. So people are well aware ofthis corporate backing its religious beliefs.

There is a difference between founding a company on certain beliefs and concocting them to ride a wave of hijacking social movements. Customers are aware of the difference.

Virgin Group can wax lyrical about its concerns in trying to save the planet but the only woke thing would be to shut down. Pushing the guilt back on its customers shows how hypocritical the airline is.

To be honest it gets tiring waiting in corporate lobbies watching flat panel TVs advertising all of the wonderful community things they do. 99% of the transaction with any corporate will be driven by the ability to deliver goods and services, not supporting tree planting. It is not to diminish charity or good intentions, rather to cut back on acting as though they’re angels to avoid being put on an imaginary naughty step that doesn’t exist.

Perhaps CM should recommend a portfolio of non-compliant ESG companies. When the market sells off, all the passive money in ESG compliant names should well underperform those that don’t. Perhaps an asset manager should establish an ETF with a basket of companies that just provide product or service rather than garnish it with lashings of corporate virtue. Here is betting it would be a contrarian winner.

Paying someone to quit smoking on your behalf

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Jo Nova has put together an excellent piece on the Labor government’s plan to buy carbon credits overseas to atone for our CO2 sins. Buying air we can’t breathe is essentially like paying someone else to quit smoking on our behalf. How do we benefit?!?

Labor leader Bill Shorten may argue that the cost of doing nothing on climate change is a “charlatan’s argument” but CM costed it yesterday. Our CO2 emissions are equivalent to 0.000016% of the global total. No matter what we do our impact is nothing. What does tokenism get us? Zero. Zip. Nada.

Jo Nova wrote,

The 35 billion dollars we will spend on these useless, fraud-prone certificates is $35 billion we are taking out of the Australian labor market, or not spending on medicine, books or holidays in Bali. Angus Taylor, Minister for Energy, has noticed that this means $10b less tax will be paid too, which means less money for hospitals and schools.

There’s nothing wrong with payments to foreigners for real goods and services. But carbon credits buy us 0.0001C of theoretical cooling we don’t need and won’t be able to measure 100 years from now. It’s the dumbest deal Australia has ever made. Fraudsters and bankers will love it.”

Carbon credit markets have had a sketchy past. Hackers broke into poorly protected government and corporate carbon registries and swindled €3.7mn. So the credits we might buy to virtue signal may end up being fraudulent.

Carbon trading is a complete scam. As Jo Nova added,

“Independent modelling suggests the 45% emissions target of the Labor party will cost at least $264bn and as high as $542bn by 2030. The Liberal Party will “only” waste  $50 – $80b.”

All for absolutely nothing. When the economy tanks our politicians can brag about achieving lower emissions targets quicker because our climate policies will have accelerated the death of industry.

Folau’s religious beliefs not for sale

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How pathetic is Rugby Australia’s (RA) “peace offering” to buy off Israel Folau for $1mn? Good on Folau for rejecting it. It only proves his religious beliefs aren’t for sale.

It is becoming more and more typical of boards to yield to trolls on social media which ends up in knee-jerk decisions that often end up backfiring. This week The Australian conducted a poll of c.27,000 people which showed 89% support for keeping Folau in the Wallabies team.

If RA’s board acted rationally, it could have simply made a public statement saying it deeply disapproved of what Folau wrote on Twitter yet his words are protected under the Constitution of Australia.

Instead, the board panicked and revealed its own shortcomings in dealing with the crisis. Management’s behaviour seems to have filtered down to the players too. Several Wallabies made comments suggesting they may boycott the team if Folau stays. It is almost guaranteed they won’t sacrifice their lucrative contracts to virtue signal. Pure vanity at its worst.

Why hasn’t the RA board removed the coach for poor real world performance? The board is there to build a team that can win. That’s what sells tickets and brings fans.  Coach Michael Cheika’s record is the worst of any Wallabies coach period. Yet he remains.

He has a 43% overall win record at the helm. With the All Blacks its 17%. England 13%. Ireland 20%.  Even Scotland is 50%.

Bob Dwyer – 64% win record

Alan Jones – 68%

Greg Smith – 63%

Rod Macqueen – 79%

Eddie Jones – 58%

John Connolly- 59%

Robbie Deans – 58%

Ewen Mackenzie- 50%

Maybe the board should consider Cheika’s actual performance rather than his views on Folau’s social media engagement. Clearly political correctness is a bigger priority at RA.

Please spare us the “inclusivity & diversity” babble. By explicitly trying to exclude Folau for his religious beliefs, RA clearly acts how it proclaims it does not. Furthermore to offer $1m shows that the RA has little case to answer for. Whatever ‘code of conduct or inclusion’ clauses in his contract may exist, they do not supersede the Constitution.

CM does not think highly of what Folau said but defends his right to say it.

RA’s board should be focused on what matters (winning)  rather than wasting countless time and money trying to restore their tarnished reputation to a tiny cabal of social justice warriors.

Why does climate science fraud go unpunished?

Why is it that whenever climate scientists get caught manipulating figures there are no repercussions? Let’s not kid ourselves. Governments around the world have splurged 100s of billions of TAXPAYER dollars on climate abatement that have been based on research that in numerous cases has been found to involve manipulation. Whichever way we cut it, fraud is fraud.

Take the financial sector as an example. There has been much malfeasance committed in the last few decades that have resulted in humungous penalties.

WorldCom CEO Bernie Ebbers was sentenced to 25 years based on nine counts of conspiracy, securities fraud and false regulatory filings to the tune of $11bn.

Enron’s former CEO Jeffrey Skilling was convicted on 35 counts of fraud, insider trading and other crimes related to Enron and sentenced to 24 years prison and fined $45 million.

Madoff got 150 years for his $65bn Ponzi scheme, Allen Stanford received 110 years jail for his $7bn fraud.

Yet when the scientific community commits fraudulent offences, they’re not even brought to trial.

Take the UNIPCC which was established by the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Panel (UNEP) in 1988.

The Climategate email scandal in 2009 and the Climategate 2.0 in 2011 have shown far less faith internally than what is publicly admitted. They point to multiple cases of bullying dissenters, ignoring information that didn’t fit the narrative and data fudging.

NOAA was subpoenaed after Dr. John Bates, a recently retired principal scientist at NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center, exposes the Karl study which was used “to discredit the notion of a global warming hiatus and rush to time the publication of the paper to influence national and international deliberations on climate policy.”

Dr. Bates whistle blew on the Obama administration’s efforts to push a costly climate agenda at the expense of scientific integrity.

This was fraud. Data was manipulated ahead of the Paris summit. Developed countries committed to a minimum $100bn. The International Justice Initiative at the University of Tasmania, showed that “The total cost for developing countries to implement their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) is more than US$4.4 trillion.”

Bernie Madoff looks a rank amateur compared to the implications caused by a fabricated NOAA publication. NOAA refused to comply with initially polite inquiries to answer whistle blower claims, baselessly arguing that Congress, its employer, was not authorized to request communications from its scientists.  Despite a congressional subpoena, NOAA kept ignoring its master. Some 6 months later they begrudgingly attended a committee hearing and were found out. Punishment? Nothing. Zero. Nada.

Perhaps if these same scientists were held to the types of punishment meted out to fraudsters in the financial world, their scientific publications would “cool” (no pun intended) to reveal the truth. Alas until they face significant penalties, the alarmism won’t abate (pun intended).