I never met Ted Rogers. But I think I would have liked him if Ihad. We both thought alike when it came to hard work, entrepreneurialism, and persistence.
Still, the prospect of meeting him would have filled me with trepidation. It wouldnt be because of his stature in the world of Canadian business. It would be for fear I would hear: Hey, arent you the guy who trashed my company?
Yes, thats right. Many years before I began working for Canadian Business Online (owned by Rogers Communications), I wrote an article in Investors Digest of Canada advising investors to avoid shares in Rogers Communications. In fact, I said sell them. The debt load was too high.
Sometime after, a lengthy letter arrived from Rogers Communications chief financial officer. It strongly disagreed with the analysis and some facts. There might have even been a reference to consulting with our lawyers, or something like that. The editors dodged the bullet by running an apology, headlined: MACDONALD WAS WRONG. Well, at least they kept me on.
A month or so after sending the anguished letter, the CFO left Rogers Communications. Had my diatribe been the straw that broke the back of a fed-up camel? Ill never know.
Then, over the next year or so, shares in the cable company tumbled all the way to $3.00. My bearish call, as riddled with as it was with dodgy analysis and figures, proved to be the right one. Its better to be lucky than good, as they say.
Now, Rogers Communicationshas emerged as a growth company. After years of losses, it is reporting profits, and began paying a dividend that now yields nearly 3%. The shares reached a high of $50 in 2007 and are holding up relatively well, close to $35, as 2008 comes to a close.
The company appears to be winning the convergence battle in the telecommunications field. Ted Rogers certainly has to be given credit for what he built. Many thought he was being too reckless with borrowing and too aggressive in making acquisitions. But he prevailed and showed he had the right approach. It looks like his company will be around for a very long time now. Canadian business could use more Ted Rogers.