The world of high finance

I have stock in an energy company. Energy companies (gas, electric, etc.) are supposed to be very stable companies in which to invest and this company has been very stable, with steadily increasing stock prices, right up until the time I obtained my stock. Since that time, the stock price has fallen (plummeted would be a better term) by nearly $8/share, or nearly 17% of its value.

Today I received the annual report for this company. Seeing as how I own a small part of this company, I feel obligated to try and read these reports when I get them. It is my understanding that most people do not try this, and I can see why. These things are impossible to understand.

Granted, I never did well in economics (I received a D in macro econ in college, even while I read the text book and attended every lecture. It was a mental barrier I have never been able to overcome.) You would think these things would be written in a language, as Living Colour would say, that everyone here can easily understand.

The main part of the annual report is some 50 pages long, with lots of tables. What is incredible about this is that the “footnotes” to the annual report are some 26 pages long, making the whole thing close to 80 pages of very small print. Reading it is bad enough, but I feel sorry for the person who has to write these things.

The annual report that I received today was the first one I’ve ever received that had a reader card in it, the way magazines do. The card asked several questions about how I enjoyed reading the annual report and how much time I spent reading it. Did I read it at work or at home? Well, to be honest, the time that I spent reading it so far was in the bathroom (multitasking). Interestingly enough, there are no questions about the clarity of the report.

I say all of this as preface to the fact that I believe I just wasn’t made for the world of high finance. Gross incomes, net incomes, operating expenses, pre-tax operating income, nuclear fuel tax credits; it means nothing to me. The entire document could be written in South Martian for all the sense I can make out of it. As someone who feels he is a reasonably intelligent person, my inability to understand a document such as this tears at my ego. But it is nonetheless true; try as I might, I simply can make no sense of the annual report.

They also sent some paper work asking me to vote on something which I also don’t understand. I don’t mind doing that for two reasons:

1. It’s the American Way to vote for something for which you have no understanding.

2. I always vote against what I think the majority wants. It’s my feeble act of spiteful rebellion against their stupid annual report.

UPDATE: Since posting this, my stock closed nearly 2% higher today, it’s single highest one-day gain since I’ve held it. I need to bitch and complain more often.


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