Weil’s Views on Finance, Afternoon Edition

Jonathan Weil joined Bloomberg News as a columnist in 2007, and his columns on finance and accounting won Best in the Business awards from the Society of American Business Editors and Writers in 2009 and 2010.
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Happy Friday, View fans. Here's some of what I've been reading this afternoon.

Tesla's non-GAAP numbers are ridiculous

By non-GAAP, that means the company is making up its own accounting principles, rather than using the generally accepted kind, when it releases quarterly results to investors. Wall Street loves the electric-car maker. But its financial-reporting practices are terrible, says John Petersen, a Texas attorney who has a blog called IPO-law.com. He writes in a post on Seeking Alpha: "While I'm quite impressed with the accomplishments of Tesla's manufacturing team, I believe their reported non-GAAP earnings for Q2 are the worst kind of distortion."

Marty Lipton is complaining about activist hedge funds again

In a post this morning on Harvard Law School's blog, the lawyer who invented the poison pill corporate takeover defense bemoans the pressures companies face to deliver short-term results at the expense of long-term value. Loudmouth investors make things worse. "These challenges are exacerbated by the ease with which activist hedge funds can, without consequence, advance their own goals and agendas by exploiting the current regulatory and institutional environment and credibly threatening to disrupt corporate functioning if their demands are not met," he writes. So there you have it: Corporate managers and boards should be left alone. And shareholders who speak their minds are a menace, heaven forbid they should have "goals and agendas" such as selling their shares for more than they paid.

The most remarkable comeback story in Internet history

That's what Henry Blodget of Business Insider calls Priceline.com. Sure enough, its stock chart since 1999 looks like the Grand Canyon. "With shockingly little fanfare, the company's value is about to exceed the level is hit back in the wild dotcom days. The company, in other words, is about to be worth $50 billion again." And its chief executive officer, Jeff Boyd, "is so press shy that you've probably never heard of him."

Steve Forbes doesn't like central bankers , not one bit

In his magazine he writes: "Jail bankers? Let's start with the real villains -- central bankers and their political masters." He's exaggerating, I think. (All of them?) Mainly his beef is with the British government's plan for legislation to have top-level bankers face prison time for "reckless" risk taking. And he's got good points about that.

Staring into a house of mirrors at the New York Times

Now that Jeff Bezos is buying the Washington Post, New York Times columnist James Stewart writes about what it means for the New York Times -- in the New York Times, of course. Dream follow-up: a New York Times media critic writes about Stewart's column, and then the Times public editor weighs in on that. But I digress. As Stewart writes, "In stark financial terms, the Times is now a minnow in a sea of sharks."

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg View's editorial board or Bloomberg LP, its owners and investors.

To contact the author on this story:
Jonathan Weil at jweil16@bloomberg.net