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Nice post. I agree with you that Brunetti isn't dishonest, but I don't think he is stupid, my word would be afraid. When wall street was pitching its Enron model to utilities, few if any could resist. They were afraid to lest their stock get hammered. If their stock tanked while others roared, they would be out of a job.

This is what I think happened with Xcel. The top management was afraid to think like a company and thought like a stock. And stocks needed to show growth or CEO's got fired. Long term planning was "passe" and anyone who didn't do all he could to "maximize shareholder value" was in immediate danger of being shown the door.

If you look at this, the approach taken could allow Brunetti to keep his job despite all this. Why? The whole sector has cratered [well almost]. It is easier to explain the problems as one of the sector/industry when almost everyone is down. So by following the herd, XEL went up when the market did and the top brass looked good, and it went down when the sector fell, so top brass can say its not us it's industry wide.

Seems pretty smart to me - at least if your goal is personal survival. It's no way to run a company but seems to be the way to run a stock, keep your 7 figure job and make a bundle.

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