(FORTUNE Magazine) - Instant Nostalgia
I ALWAYS LOVE IT when you commemorate history in the FORTUNE 500 issue. Some years you publish past FORTUNE covers. Other years you reprint old stories. This year I especially enjoyed the retro photograph representing the biggest company in America. Oh, how I yearn for the days of $2.39 regular unleaded!
LOU BERMAN Fairless Hills, Pa.
Gates Works It
THANKS TO Bill Gates' "How I Work" (First, April 17), I now understand why there are still piles of paper on my desk right next to the computer. To work efficiently, especially when multitasking, I need to have many pages laid out to see all at once. Gates' solution--to use three 21-inch monitors that are linked--is neat. But until it's affordable for most offices, the future digital work style will remain, well, the future.
SAUWAKON RATANAWIJITRASIN Pharmaceutical System Research & Intelligence Center Bangkok
Placating Wall Street
AS WRITER Justin Fox notes in "Why So Short-Sighted?" (First, April 17), large corporations feel pressured to perform for the sake of Wall Street. And as companies focus on hitting corporate earnings expectations, the customer is ultimately forgotten.
Here's how business is supposed to work: A company gets the biggest return on investment when its customers buy more products and services from it. The customer raises the stock price. Not Wall Street. Not the management team. Not the sales force.
Tell Wall Street that it can't tell you how to run your business. Set a five-year goal. Report once a year. And set a goal for a percentage increase in profits, not in pennies per share in earnings. If Wall Street doesn't like that approach now, it will appreciate the results when it sees the rise in your profits.
MICKY BAKER Kansas City, Kan.
Quarterly reports were mandated in the 1960s. Why does anyone still think that interval is optimal? Technology now supports a weekly or even a daily release of key statistics on whatever the market would like to know. Voluntarily providing more complete information throughout the quarter would prevent surprises when the 10-Q is filed. Don't wait for FASB to make it mandatory. Just do it--and convince the markets you want them to be informed.
PAUL W.B. MILLER Professor of Accounting University of Colorado at Colorado Springs
Burn That Bra!
AS A YOUNG successful woman with a generous disposable income, I gleefully went through "The FORTUNE $500" (Business Life, April 17). I tolerated the men's Italian shoes, the men's shirt, and the male-centric golf balls and steaks. Surely, I thought, they'll suggest something for women.
Oh! I was right! You included that spiffy, hideous Collier bra. But then you made sure to include the disclaimer that it, well, would make a lovely gift for her. Because surely there are no successful businesswomen reading your mag who can afford to spend money on themselves. How antiquated.
JULIE SHAREK Orlando
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