business news in context, analysis with attitude

Forbes has come out with what it is calling its “F List,” the opposite of the “A List” that contains companies it identifies as being solid investments.

The “F List” is designed to be a counterweight -- a listing of former “A List” companies “that didn't merely miss the mark this year but fell off our ranking with a resounding thud.”

And that the top (or the bottom) of the list: Ahold.

“Ahold,” writes Forbes, “went into free fall at the end of February, when the board announced its U.S. unit would have to restate earnings, some of which were booked before they were earned. The Dutch grocer made our list every year -- except this one. Former CEO Cees van der Hoeven set out to dominate the world's ‘stomach share,’ nearly ten years ago, buying up grocery chains in Europe and the Americas and building the second-largest food distributor in the U.S. through multibillion-dollar acquisitions. But the pressure to make those acquisitions look good and live up to ambitious promises made to the market led to some aggressive accounting.”
KC's View:
No news here. But as the old, bad news gets repeated and repeated, it cannot help but affect long-term confidence that Ahold will be able to rebound.

After all, among the others on the list are AOL Time Warner, Vivendi Universal, Worldcom, and, of course, Enron.

The only place where we’d disagree with Forbes is where it reports that “most of the companies on our F-List fell hard because they aimed high.”

Maybe. Or maybe the real problem is that when they aimed, they had their eyes closed and their consciences on stand-by.