Friday, February 3, 2012

Weekend Report: Egypt, International Paper, FedEx, and Susan Komen

Posted By on Fri, Feb 3, 2012 at 2:41 PM

Best line of the week: "Burger King," by developer Henry Turley to the ambulance crew member who asked which hospital he wanted to be taken to after he passed out while chairing a board meeting for Sun Trust Bank this week. He blamed his fall on cold medications and a lack of breakfast and declined an overnight stay in the hospital. He is doing fine.

The CEOs of two of our biggest companies were in the news Thursday. On CNBC, FedEx CEO Fred Smith said the U.S. economy is growing but not at a rate high enough to absorb the increase in population. He recommended that the government enhance capital investment, keep exploring fuel sources not dependent on Middle Eastern nations, and change the tax code provisions that penalize profits made abroad. Smith said 43 percent of FedEx world management team is minorities and women. And he said the Post Office "is run by a very competent man who was in Memphis last week to talk to our managers." That would be Patrick Donahoe.

An hour later, International Paper CEO John Faraci was on a web conference for IP's fourth-quarter and annual financial report. He said IP had its "best financial results in almost two decades." The company, which has some 2,400 employees in the Memphis area, transformed itself in 2010, selling its land portfolio, cutting costs, and preparing the way for $1.5 billion in capital investments in 2012. I interviewed Faraci later that day for an upcoming story in our MBQ magazine. Things I didn't know until this week: IP's North American mills get 73 percent of their energy from renewable sources and IP is the recycler of 12 percent of all paper that is recycled.

Egypt has raised the standard for violence at sporting events with a riot that killed 74 people. My friend Mohamad Elmeliegy, who came to Memphis from Cairo, told me he was saddened but not surprised by the bad news. In a column in September he said Egypt is new to democracy and "has been governed by the military since the pharaohs."

Don't put your sponsors in the position of having to talk about abortion. That's the lesson of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure turnabout this week, according to a colleague in our marketing department who is familiar with the Memphis Race for the Cure in Germantown every year. Komen had said earlier this week it would cease to fund grants for breast cancer screening to Planned Parenthood under new rules to tighten eligibility. "We want to apologize to the American public for recent decisions that cast doubt upon our commitment to our mission of saving women's lives," Komen said in a statement on Friday signed by its board of directors and its founder Nancy Brinker.

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