CEO of mining company tears into analysts during rant

October 19, 2018 - 2:01 pm

The CEO of a mining company exploded at Wall Street analysts on Friday, saying they don't know how to read financial reports and should quit their jobs.

"You guys should resign for your lack of knowledge of things," said Lourenco Goncalves, the CEO of Cleveland-Cliffs Inc. "You are a disaster. You are an embarrassment to your parents."

Goncalves directed much of his fury at a Goldman Sachs analyst whom he accused of "bad math" in calculating that the company's third-quarter earnings per share were less than expected.

The rant drew unusual attention to Cleveland-Cliffs, which operates iron-ore mines in the U.S. and Australia, and earned Goncalves an invitation to appear on CNBC, which he called "a big accomplishment."

However, the company's shares sank 10 percent in morning trading before recovering to close down 43 cents, or 3.8 percent, at $11.05.

The call occurred after the company reported a third-quarter profit of $437.8 million, up from $53.4 million a year earlier. After giving a routine rundown of the quarter, Goncalves went on the attack during a question-and-answer period.

The CEO seemed particularly perturbed with one analyst, whom he did not name at first.

"We are going to screw this guy so badly that I don't believe that they will be able to only resign. They will have to commit suicide," Goncalves said.

Later, Goncalves called out Goldman Sachs analyst Matthew Korn, asking him, "Why don't you ask a freaking question?" He was disappointed to learn that Korn apparently was not on the call.

"You can run, but you can't hide," Goncalves said just before ending the call.

Goncalves was upset that the Goldman Sachs analyst wrote in a note to clients that Cleveland-Cliffs "modestly missed" expectations around earnings per share.

The company reported that excluding discontinued operations, it earned 64 cents per share in the third quarter. That fell short of Korn's prediction of 68 cents per share and the consensus forecasts of analysts surveyed by Reuters and Zacks Investment Research — both of which came in at 66 cents per share.

Goncalves said on CNBC that Goldman Sachs had used the wrong share count — 303 million instead of 310 million — in calculating earnings per share. Goldman Sachs declined to comment or to make the analyst available for an interview.

The CEO defended his comments on the call. "I don't believe I berated anyone," he said. Most CEOs, he said, are "cookie-cutter people ... I'm different."

The incident was reminiscent of Tesla CEO Elon Musk's scolding of analysts on a call in May, which sent the car maker's stock down in after-hours trading.

Cleveland-Cliffs and its predecessor, Cliff's Natural Resources Inc., have been on a roller-coaster ride this decade. The stock price peaked above $100 in 2011, crashed to under $2 by the end of 2015, then rallied. The shares have gained 53 percent this year.

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