Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Red Alert

The venerable H. J. Heinz Company (HNZ), per its 10-K, has decided to pare its business down to three tried-and-true product lines: Ketchup & Sauces, Meals & Snacks, and Infant Food. To aid in this effort, late last year the company established an International Center for Excellence in Ketchup & Sauces, which serves, among other things, as "a knowledge base for tomatoes."

Well, I'm all for tomato education. And for excellence. But when it comes to drafting its Risk Factors disclosure, I'd give Heinz only a fair rating. As discussed in a previous post, the point of Risk Factors is to pinpoint risks of the particular business you're in, not to wax bleakly Dick Cheney-like about the world's problems. Yet Heinz notes (duh) that "its performance is affected by economic and political conditions" in the U.S. and elsewhere. And it mentions my favorite of all Unhelpful Risk Factors, potential "terrorist acts."

Well, the Department of Homeland Security has said it doesn't believe New York City contains any national monuments terrorists might be likely to target. Wonder how they feel about a condiment excellence center somewhere near Pittsburgh.