This Day In Market History: Enron CEO Curses Skeptical Analyst On Earnings Call

Each day, Benzinga takes a look back at a notable market-related moment that occurred on this date.

What Happened?

On this day 17 years ago, Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling called Highfields Capital analyst Richard Grubman an “a--hole” on Enron’s public earnings conference call.

Where The Market Was

The Dow finished the day at 10,216.73. The S&P 500 traded at 1,191.81. Today, the Dow is trading at 26,452 and the S&P 500 is trading at 2,907.

What Else Was Going On In The World?

In 2001, Timothy McVeigh was executed for his role in the Oklahoma City Bombing. The U.S. Congress passed an airport security bill requiring all airport security screeners be U.S. citizens and submit to criminal background checks. The average price of a new car was $25,850.

Too Many Questions Upset Enron CEO

On April 17, 2001, Grubman joined the Enron conference call and asked the company to provide a balance sheet with an earnings statement for the sixth consecutive quarter.

“You’re the only financial institution that can’t produce a balance sheet or cash flow statement with their earnings,” Grubman said.

Skilling fielded the question. 

“You … you … you,” Skilling said. “Well, uh … thank you very much. We appreciate it. A--hole.”

Grubman’s hounding had played a big part in Enron’s stock falling from around $90 per share six months prior to just $60 at the time of the earnings call. Of course, there was good reason the company wasn’t being transparent with investors. Skilling resigned as CEO just four months later and Enron filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy before the end of 2001.

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