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Subprime and the missing hyphen…

images-12.jpegLast night, when I was skimming the 10-K filed late yesterday by Orleans Homebuilders (OHB), I stumbled across something interesting: sometimes the company used the word subprime and sometimes they used the word sub-prime. Why does that matter? Because over the past few weeks, including this post last week, I have been talking about the growing number of companies that seem to be blaming their current woes on the subprime meltdown. For the month of August, I wrote that there were 788 distinctive filings that mentioned the word subprime, compared with only 308 for August 2006.

Well, it turns out that the hyphen makes a big difference. Searching 10K Wizard for both forms of the word turns up some much more dramatic results: 1,255 filings in August 2007 vs. only 431 for August 2006. The spike is even more dramatic when compared to the 295 times subprime was mentioned in August 2005. A quick skim of those 1,255 filings turns up a lot of duplicates. For example, T. Rowe Price mentions the word in filings for just about every one of their funds. Other filings simply note that the company has limited exposure to subprime. So while it’s hard to form too many conclusions about all of those filings, it is interesting that the number is much bigger than I initially thought.

Speaking of interesting, be sure to read Robert Reich’s defense of CEO pay in today’s WSJ. A friend called me about it first thing this morning and we both agreed: was this supposed to be in The Onion instead?