William Lauder Needs a Lesson in What Being Public Means

I’m a bit late to this item from today’s Wall Street Journal because I generally skip its softball CEO interviews. However, they do give corporate leaders the opportunity to make unwitting self revelations. Here, Estee Laude rCEO William Lauder demonstrates that he could use a primer on the basics of public ownership:

On the external side, it’s becoming more and more apparent that many of our outside shareholders are not oriented to the long term. Their definition of long term is a quarter, as opposed to a quarter century, which is our definition….We’ve spent a lot of time over the last three or four years changing our shareholder base, emphasizing long-term shareholders. I won’t be shy about saying that if you’re in it for the quarter, we’re not interested in you.

It’s one thing to declare that you aren’t managing for the quarter, and let investors sort that out for themselves, and quite another for you to pretend you can control who owns your shares when they trade in open markets. Guess this kind of confusion is easy when your last name is on the front door.

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