Fertilizer and Fighter Jets

by Johnny Debacle

Scotts Miracle-Gro is a manufacturer/marketer of branded lawn and garden products. You would probably recognize some of their brands like Scotts, Miracle-Gro and Ortho as stuff you put on your lawn. Their CEO Jim Hagedorn (who owns a ton of the stock), is a retired Air Force pilot and is wont to ramble. In his closing remarks at last year’s Investor/Analyst Day, he created an epic meditation on fertilizer, the power of greed and war:

“I didn’t get out of flying fighters to be a fertilizer salesman. I got out of fighters because I think it’s a more pure form of conflict here.”

I don’t disagree.

“It’s like the purest form of conflict in that like nobody really dies, but think how many volunteers you’d have if you could go over to Iraq and you could take all the money you could find?”

Perhaps becoming President or at least Secretary of State would be an even purer form of conflict than the fertilizer business, because we need to get these ideas into policy ASAP.

“This is what it’s like! I really like this business. I may be scaring you, I’m sorry.”

No, not at all. We already said how much we agree, Jim.

“But think about it! We get encouraged to basically compete — it’s a good thing. It’s okay to win. It’s okay to take market share which is just real estate — it’s imperialistic.”

This is exactly the kind of CEO I want in charge of a $2bn revenue, $300mm EBITDA, $2.5bn market cap company. He should also own ~40% equity in the company. Thankfully, he does, that financial imperialist son-of-a-gun.

Recommendation: Long inappropriate analogies


ps. As an investor, this is a pretty stock chart.

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