Thanksgiving awards

By DAVID MOON, Moon Capital Management, LLC

My 2007 Thanksgiving awards:

Ham Award. To CNBC's Jim Cramer, for obvious reasons.

Turkey Award. When Bear Stearns was in the midst of a ten-day crisis this summer that resulted in the collapse of two hedge funds and the loss of billions of dollars, Bear CEO James Cayne was in Nashville playing in a bridge tournament ' without either a cell phone or email device. The 73-year-old Cayne was paid $34 million in 2006. Gobble, gobble, gobble.

Mashed Potato Award. This bland award goes to home retailer Lowes. In an effort to avoid offending anyone, the company's catalogue's offered Family Trees this season, rather than Christmas Trees. After protests, the company reversed its decision, blaming the catalogue phrasing on an error in proofreading.

We don't typically offer a Waffle Award, but Lowes is causing us to consider one for next year.

Squash Award. To the shareholders of Countrywide Financial. The shares have fallen by more than 75 percent this year. That is, they've been squashed.

Casserole Award. Many family traditions include a casserole comprised of unknown specific components, seemingly a little bit of everything from the kitchen smothered in fake fried onions and cheddar cheese. This award is given to all of those investors ' institutional and individual ' who like to pretend they are actually managing their investments when, in fact, they are simply adding a little of everything to the portfolio, sans the Durkee onions.

Peas Award. The first winner in this new category is Astellas Pharma, manufacturer of Flomax, the drug used to treat enlarged prostate and its attendant urinary activity.

The Uncle Fred Award. Most families have an uncle who, immediately following dinner, retires to the family room, plops in front of the television and immediately becomes oblivious to all reality. The winner of this award is the National Association of Realtors, who still seem to refuse to admit any problems in the real estate market.

Vegetable Award. In honor of proving to be practically brain dead, the gold veggie award is hereby given to the legions of mortgage originators who loaned money to people who had no chance of ever being able to pay it back.

The silver vegetable is given to the millions of people who figured that if a bank would loan them the money, that must mean they could afford the house.

Aunt Sylvia Award. Every family has that one aunt who weighs 240 lbs. and blames her weight problems on her thyroid ' even while she scarfs her third piece of pie. This award is for every company that routinely blames its poor results on the weather or the calendar or the alignment of the stars ' or its corporate thyroid.

Turkey Bowl Award. For all of the amateur football players and investors whose injuries are self-inflicted.

Meringue Award. Knoxville-based in-cab truck-electrification-system provider IdleAire has whipped up a very good story and a tasty layer of investor interest. As with a great lemon meringue pie, I'm anxious to see what's under the fluffy topping.

David Moon is president of Moon Capital Management, a Knoxville-based investment management firm. This article originally appeared in the News Sentinel (Knoxville, TN).

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