No. of Recommendations: 1
That's why I usually avoid conference calls and like to let the numbers speak for themselves....although I would like to know something about their financial estimates.

I tend to be the opposite. I record and replay and analyze conference calls - most of the time on my mp3 player in the car, at the gym, etc. The hard numbers are rearward-looking. The forward estimates often are not put in context except in conference calls; including during the Q&A sessions. And none of the numbers gives you a real assessment of the people in charge; not really.
And I've tried to be in on more than a few of the questions myself. It's usually only on the third or 4th listening that I realize what questions I need to ask; including what is not being talked about, that should be. I then contact...and occassionally call...the company with the questions. That alone usually is an experience.

DESC, for example: I've considered their assessments of themselves on conference calls to be pretty good over several years now (and over both CEOs terms'). It was the trust I developed in them that led me a couple of years ago, to increase my holdings significantly at $1.70 when they uncharacteristically gave a statement at a cc that they think they just had hit an inflection point. Turned out to be right on the money. And I think they are better looking forward right now than they ever have been.
AND, they answer shareholder questions. Contrast that with what, until last week, was another holding of mine: HYGS. They don't allow individual shareholders to ask questions on conference calls - in violation of SEC regs, by the way - AND, they never, ever, even acknowledge you sent them an email with questions. Trust me, I know.

If I did listen to the conference call it would be with an ear to any sentence that spoke to their estimates for when they expect to be profitable. THAT is really the only thing that's important. Did you hear anything in the conference call about that?

I just listened to their September pitch again for you. Nope.

And I guess that's a big reason that I'm so down on companies like HYGS and FCEL (especially HYGS). If you listen to their articulate spokesmen you can get the impression that they have viable business models - but it's hard to find any evidence of that in their financial statements.

Well, careful on that with HYGS; via Stuart, they've been around over 50 years, with a very clear business model there. HYGS, which started as a fuel cell test equipment maker, has done well there- even inspite of a hiccup at the Greenlight unit that necessiated a management change. And even thought Stuart has had a clear business model for decades, that didn't stop their European Vandenborre operation from royally screwing up the entire past year --leading, finally, this week, to that manager getting replaced (about six months too late, in my opinion).
(FCEL has a rougher time of it going forward, in my view: I don't think they have done anything 'wrong' with the core product. But they have not broadened out sufficiently to cover themselves as a company. In the past two years, ACPW - and DESC - have broadened themselves in a way that makes them less-risky companies than they were. FCEL hasn't).

HYGS is not a fake company; and its fuel cell portion is growing; and Europe -appears- to maybe be on the mend. That, combined with all their cash, may mean that they can be a speculative buy below, say, $1.40. They aren't going to disappear in a year or two. But they have a very weak board of directors; and a shareholder-unfriendly management. Plus, Pierre has proven himself more visionary, than business manager. DESC on the other hand - as well as, say, ACPW - have real managers in charge now. Both are stable, well-managed, flexible and innovative - and at undeservedly low prices right now.

jp
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