This concerns me. And it should concern you, too.
Not necessarily because I'm a big fan of
I'm concerned because Darden is a big part of this community.
The company is one of the most charitable in
I may not always agree with all of Darden's decisions or political machinations. But there's no doubt that Darden is a crucial part of both the region's economy and social fabric.
And the main reason I'm concerned is that the firms now telling Darden what to do don't care one whit about all that.
They just want to make a quick buck. And if that means gutting a company, selling off properties or laying off employees to boost stock prices by 25 percent so they can cash out and move on, so be it.
The activist investors' mission statements say as much, with talk of targeting "undervalued companies" to create "shareholder value."
That often means finding a company in turmoil and picking its bones clean.
This is increasingly the face of modern-day capitalism. It's not about building things for the long term or ensuring that companies thrive. It's about swinging in with a wrecking ball, pawning off the pieces and escaping with a quick profit.
You may see a restaurant that employs 50 people and churns out a modest but reliable profit every year. The investors see 1.75 acres of land and 125 parking spaces that can net a quick real-estate profit.
It's partly why the middle class is dying, since employees are often the casualties.
It's not good for our economy. Thriving companies that do things and build things are.
Keep in mind: Darden is still posting profits. Each and every quarter.
Now, these hedge-fund firms don't always seek and destroy. Sometimes outsiders bring fresh perspectives and prompt needed change. Their pushes can force stagnant companies and set-in-their-ways execs to think outside the box.
Perhaps the two firms gunning for Darden --
To be fair, there's a reason there are barbarians at Darden's gates.
Darden has struggled to keep up with evolving dining trends. While the cheap-eats and higher-end meal markets are profiting, Darden has tried to lumber along in the murky middle, hoping
But the outside investors are calling for quick, sweeping changes -- wanting the company to spin off
It's a harried, high-pressure environment for making major decisions.
And too often, analysts say, these decisions are made for short-term gains -- "an immediate pop in the price of the stock," according to one analyst the Sentinel quoted recently.
That would be a shame. Because, while the employees and buildings may look like chess pieces to
The best thing would be for these companies to restructure for the long term with robust workforces and long-range growth.
That's what would benefit the company, the employees,
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