Brian Ross, Andrew Cuomo as contra-indicators..

February 20, 2008

images-22.jpegLate Friday, the ABC News program 20/20 aired a pretty negative report about Bodies: The Exhibition, which is run by Atlanta-based Premier Exhibits (PRXI). The basic gist of the report was that the bodies in the exhibit were less than legitimate and some might have been political prisoners from China who died of less than natural causes. During the interview, CEO Arnie Geller looked particularly bad when answering questions about a bill of lading. That was in addition to this late Friday filing, which announced both the departure of the CFO and a subpoena from New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo.

Sounds pretty bad, right? But yesterday, the stock jumped 17% and it’s up again today. Part of that is probably due to some fast-footed PR work and legal work. Late Friday, the company issued this open letter to investors blaming the 20/20 Report on a jealous competitor. It followed up with a conference call yesterday morning before markets opened and the announcement of a new CFO and stock buyback.

During the call, Geller noted that weekend traffic to the exhibits was up sharply — an average of 20% — and even higher in several cities including New York, Pittsburgh and Las Vegas, though it’s not entirely clear from the transcript what he’s comparing those numbers too — other weekends, or the same dates last year. Now maybe it was curiosity. Or maybe it’s the fact that Monday was the President’s Day weekend and just about everyone had a long weekend and was looking for something to do. But it’s looking like Brian Ross and even Andrew Cuomo are contra-indicators here.

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