Andy Kaufman lives!

It’s not me, I swear…

Some big companies have had a surprise during their earnings conference calls this quarter…

At least seven times just the past three weeks, a mystery caller has cleverly insinuated himself into the normally well-manicured ritual of the quarterly calls…

“Congratulations on the solid numbers — you always seem to come through in challenging times,” he said to Leo Kiely, president and chief executive officer of Molson Coors Brewing Co., on Feb. 12, convincingly parroting the obsequious banter common to the calls. “Can you provide some more color as to what you are doing for your supply chain initiatives to reduce manufacturing costs per hectoliter, as you originally promised $150 million in synergy or savings to decrease working capital?”

…[M]any CEO’s have had… trouble telling the difference. Most have gamely tried to answer the questions. Mr. Kiely and two other Molson executives stuck politely with the caller through three detailed follow-ups. Timothy Wolf, the company’s global chief financial officer, closed by telling him, “We think we will have some more positive encouraging things to share with you next month in New York,” according to a transcript of the call…

Executives at PepsiCo Inc., Dean Foods Co., Newell Rubbermaid Inc. and others have had similar experiences since around mid-January…

[A]nnoyed executives and analysts are wondering why someone would want to play a game with dry business calls that normally follow a tightly controlled formula — unless the game is the whole point. They can’t figure out how the caller is getting any benefit from so closely mimicking them. “If he was spoofing I would hope he’d be funnier,” says Bill Schmitz, an analyst at Deutsche Bank Securities.

[Mr. Schmitz has perhaps not been listening to the usual questions on such calls all that carefully.]

“Our quarterly earnings calls are key opportunities to [sic] us to interact with the investment community and to explain our results,” says a Newell Rubbermaid spokesman, David Doolittle. “Anyone who would come on the call and use some of that time unproductively is disruptive.”

[Mr. Doolittle then threatened to spank the mystery caller with a Newell Rubbermaid spatula.]

Source: Wall Street Journal.