Know When to Fold ’Em

Want to know how to make a bunch of financial analysts happy? Give them free pizza. And not just any pizza—pizza they believe is going to drive growth and boost a public company’s stock price.

It was early 2007, and I looked around in amazement at the almost giddy smiles on the faces of the normally dour financial professionals who had gathered to taste Panera’s soon-to-be-launched new product, known as Crispani. They couldn’t get enough of it! Their enthusiasm was reflected in our stock price, which rose dramatically following the new product’s announcement. Market tests confirmed the positive story. Crispani was looking like a smart bet indeed. We invested in our first-ever television commercials to promote it. We couldn’t ...

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