Whole Foods CEO secretly hearts Wal-Mart
In January 2005, a poster on a Yahoo message board made a bold prediction on how Whole Foods stock would fare.
“13 years from now Whole Foods will be a $800+ stock,” he insisted, adding that “the company is going to keep on strongly growing for another 10+ years.”
Looking at the company’s stock chart (and adjusting for splits), we can see he was calling for ninefold increase by 2018. So far, the prediction looks shaky. Today, Whole Foods stock trades at a lower price than it did in January 2005.
There’s nothing unusual about a message-board enthusiast making wild claims for a stock. But in this case, the Wall Street Journal revealed ($ub. required) Wednesday that the tipster was none other than John Mackey, Whole Foods’ famously loquacious CEO, writing under the secret nom de plume Rahodeb.
While the Journal article focused mostly on Mackey/Rahodeb’s efforts to pump Whole Foods stock and his tirades against its rival, Wild Oats — a company which Whole Foods is now trying to buy — I’d like to highlight some of the CEO’s musings on unions and Wal-Mart.
Now, Mackey openly bows to the altar of Ayn Rand, and has made no secret of his disdain for unions. And to be fair, the company is known to treat its employees well.
But check out this diatribe, from a post dated March 13, 2003:
Wal-Mart was just named the most admired company in America (also by Fortune Magazine — that magazine which obviously hates “working people”). I probably admire Wal-Mart more than any other company in the world (except for maybe Whole Foods!). What a great, great company! Wal-Mart has single handedly driven down retail prices across America. They have improved the standard of living for millions and millions of American people. Also Wal-Mart is crushing the parasitical unions across America. I love Wal-Mart! Damn straight that they should be on this list. Sexual discrimination lawsuits? Sexual harrassment lawsuits? Racial discrimination lawsuits? What company doesn’t have those? The Trial Lawyers (the richest professional class in the United States and the largest contributors to the Democratic Party — even bigger than labor unions which are #2) sue Wal-Mart. They sue Whole Foods Market. They sue every business which makes any money. They are probably even a bigger threat to our country than labor unions are (if that is possible?).
Mackey likes to trumpet the unbridled market as the only guarantor of worker well-being. Thus Wal-Mart, which employs essentially a vast army of the working poor and relies on poverty-wage workers in Asia to manufacture its wares, seems an odd object of admiration.
I also think it’s quite lame that Mackey believes that Whole Foods should be able to consolidate its power by buying any company it wants, but shrieks like a banshee when workers try to consolidate their power by unionizing.
In the days ahead, I’ll be thinking and writing about Whole Foods’ attempted buyout of Wild Oats, currently being held up by the Federal Trade Commission (investigators for which uncovered Mackey’s Internet alter-ego).
For now, though, I’ll leave you with another of Mackey’s union gems. “Only labor unions going out on strike can radically harm a food retailer’s cash flow and Whole Foods doesn’t have any unions,” he declared.
In the context of the post, he seemed to be assuming that Whole Foods would never be unionized. I hope that prediction ends up being as dubious as his stock forecast.