Showmen make terrific salespeople and sometimes salespeople are exactly what's called for to make a difference successful, PROVIDED that the showmen are solid operators. I find the combination unbeatable.
Take this morning. We interviewed Adam Aron, the CEO of AMC (AMC) , the heavily-indebted movie theatre chain that's been able to avoid the jaws of death by taking advantage of wild enthusiasm on the part of his shareholders to raise the money he needs to stay alive to play for better days.
I have known Adam for years. He has successfully run Vail Mountain Resorts, Starwood (STWD) , Norwegian Cruise Line (NCLH) , the 76ers basketball team, and now AMC. As you can imagine, AMC is, by far, his toughest challenge. But Aron tells a great story. When he was on with us this morning he told a story of tremendous cash generation as well as much greater revenue from each patron. But he also talked about how he listens to his shareholders including the Apes, those investors caught up in the meme mania, and that he welcomes their input and works for them.
All in all, he told a story of peoples' capitalism that's all about showing off how capitalism can really work to raise money and save jobs even during a pandemic when people can easily stay home to get entertainment.
He's a showman giving you a terrific stock, up more than 1500% largely, I think, because Adam is charismatic and an operator who refused to believe his company was a goner, and instead stoked the flames to keep it alive. Now they have $2 billion in cash, the most in 100 years' time. He raised $5 billion on the backs of the apes and he can go on for many years until the crowds come back even as it looks like they are coming back already. They still love going to the movies.
Who else is a great showman/operator? I think Elon Musk comes to mind. Again, he was tarred and feathered endlessly and never quit. He ended up among the wealthiest people on earth because of Tesla's (TSLA) success. As it went higher we heard this endless catcalling but he didn't care and each time it turned out to be bigger than Ford (F) , then GM (GM) , then two Ford and GMs. Fatuous comparisons. The whole way he laughed and cajoled and cursed out critics. He blew them all up.
I always liked the outspoken John Legere, the man who built T-Mobile (TMUS) on the backs of a magenta ubiquity. Legere inspired a level of loyalty and a culture that was more David than Goliath, although there were two Goliaths, Verizon (VZ) and ATT (T) , whom he called Dumb and Dumber. Lots of times when I interviewed John I was shocked that he could be so glib about the competition's failings, but John was a tremendous operator and truly brought home the bacon. John told me he was never lawyered up by his team and therefore could be his own whacky self.
That's really all about it. The showmen who are bad operators? No thank you. The great operators with the nose to the grindstone, par for the course. But the showman as CEO operator? Hard to beat.