Blog: Katy AskewMead Johnson faces conference call backlash

Katy Askew | 25 July 2013

Infant formula giant Mead Johnson had a bit of a nightmare conference call today. And not for the reason you might think.

As expected, the US company was grilled over the development of its operations in China, where it has been forced to drop prices amid an anti-trust probe from the country's regulators. The group has predicted the cuts will have a negative impact on sales of around US$30m.

But questions over the group's operations weren't the only thing challenging management this morning.

First, the company was berated for limiting the conference call length to just 45 minutes - with 30 minutes of this taken up with prepared remarks. "With so many questions around China you should be taking calls... until the last dog dies," one analyst insisted. "It is totally bogus".

The sentiment was seconded by the next analyst, while subsequently further commentators passed the line due to the "unfortunately short" nature of the call.

And then, like a comedy of errors, the fire alarm went off. 

Saved by the bell? Not quite. Just as Mead announced it would reschedule the remainder of the call because the "alarm is real" it stopped. The call continued, with a slight extension to make up for the interruption.

Not the smoothest of conference calls.


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