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Is Green Mountain Coffee Roasters serving double talk to the press?

Green Mountain Coffee Roasters (NASDAQ: GMCR) seems to believe its Investor Relations Department can double talk the press and no one will ever notice. Yesterday, the Burlington Free Press published an article questioning whether the company’s stock was “Hot or Overheating?” According to that article:

Suzanne DuLong, Green Mountain’s vice president of corporate communications, said Green Mountain Coffee Roasters does not comment on its stock price.

Oh really?

Just a month earlier, on June 15, 2011 Suzanne DuLong was interviewed by Seven Days about the ongoing Securities and Exchange Commission probe of the company, class action lawsuits, various new accounting irregularities uncovered in this blog, and possible Regulation FD violations uncovered by best-selling author Roddy Boyd. According to Seven Days:

DuLong wouldn’t comment on claims made in the shareholder lawsuit, either, but noted: “I would suggest that you perhaps look at where the stock price was trading at the point that lawsuit was filed and where it’s trading right now.”

DuLong cited its increased “stock price” as a reason for investors to discount fraud allegations made in the class action complaint. However, according to the Burlington Free Press, “Suzanne DuLong… said Green Mountain Coffee Roasters does not comment on its stock price.” While DuLong “wouldn’t comment on claims made in the shareholder lawsuit”, she clearly commented on the stock price when asked about that lawsuit.

Back on March 11, 2011, Reuters published an article about a patent litigation between Green Mountain Coffee and Sturm Foods. According to Reuters:

Green Mountain spokeswoman Suzanne Dulong said the company does not comment on pending litigation matters.

Yet again, her comment in June for the Seven Days article clearly was a comment about pending litigation.

Back even further on February 25, 2011, CNBC Senior Stocks Commentator Herb Greenberg asked Green Mountain Coffee about the very same class action lawsuit which was later commented on by Suzanne DuLong to Seven Days. According to Greenberg:

As a matter of practice, Green Mountain told me it does not comment on lawsuits.

Does Green Mountain Coffee change its policies depending on which journalist asks the question? The company commented on the class action lawsuit to Seven Days, but not to CNBC. DuLong commented on the stock price to Seven Days, but not to the Burlington Free Press.

It seems that it’s time for Green Mountain Coffee to get its story straight. Does it comment on the stock price? Does it comment on pending litigation? DuLong said the company comments on neither, yet proceeded to comment on both when it suited her company's agenda.

According to Green Mountain Coffee's Code of Ethics:

Share our story while following the Media Relations guidelines that promote consistent communications.
Newspapers, magazines, radio or television often request information about GMCR. Because of the high-profile, public nature of our company, it is important to speak to the media with one voice about our business and to represent GMCR's story and purpose in a consistent manner.
To help ensure this consistency we've come up with a few ground rules:
  • All inquiries about earnings releases, finances, or investor relations should be promptly referred to the Chief Financial Officer or the VP of Investor Relations.
  • The Director of Public Relations, the CEO, the VP of Marketing, the President, the Corporate General Counsel, or the Chief Human Resources Officer must approve any press releases, statements to the press or interviews with the media in advance.
  • Employees who are contacted by the media must work with the Director of Public Relations, the CEO, the President, the Chief Human Resources Officer, the Corporate General Counsel, or the VP of Marketing before being interviewed to review what is, and what is not, public information.

Apparently, part of the "consistent communications" that Green Mountain Coffee is trying to promote in telling its "story" to the press seems to include a consistent serving of double talk about not commenting about its stock price and pending litigation. Its Code of Ethics makes me wonder if DuLong is acting alone or receiving instructions from others at the company.

Written by:

Sam E. Antar

Disclosure

I am a convicted felon and a former CPA. As the criminal CFO of Crazy Eddie, I helped my cousin Eddie Antar and other members of his family mastermind one of the largest securities frauds uncovered during the 1980's. I committed my crimes in cold-blood for fun and profit, and simply because I could.

If it weren't for the heroic efforts of the FBI, SEC, Postal Inspector's Office, US Attorney's Office, and class action plaintiff's lawyers who investigated, prosecuted, and sued me, I would still be the criminal CFO of Crazy Eddie today.

There is a saying, "It takes one to know one." Today, I work very closely with the FBI, IRS, SEC, Justice Department, and other federal and state law enforcement agencies in training them to identify and catch white-collar criminals. Often, I refer cases to them as an independent whistleblower. In addition, I teach about white-collar crime for government entities, professional organizations, businesses, and colleges and universities.

Recently, I exposed GAAP violations by Overstock.com (also known as O.co) which caused the company to restate its financial reports for the third time in three years. The SEC is now investigating Overstock.com and its CEO Patrick Byrne for securities law violations (Details here, here, and here).

I do not seek or want forgiveness for my vicious crimes from my victims. I plan on frying in hell with other white-collar criminals for a very long time. My past sins are unforgivable.

I do not own any Green Mountain Coffee Roasters or Overstock.com securities long or short.

Comments

Unknown said…
Any thoughts on GMCR's recent quarter Sam? I personally believe you and others are onto something (at the very least), but the stock has only gone up, up, and up.. it's almost as if the more you write about GMCR, the more it goes up.
Sam E. Antar said…
After GMCR issues its 10-Q report, I will take a look at its numbers.

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