14 Jul

Even though my name is out there on the Internet, I’m still amazed when my name comes up in my Google Alert on “Jaracz” when the link isn’t something I’ve written.  I’m used to seeing my brother, someone who posts pictures of their child, the woman engaged to Drew Carey, and the leader of the Jehovah’s Witness organization who recently passed away.

However, I recently popped up on Google as part of an article on Wall Street Pit.  Writer Larry M. Elkin referred to an article I wrote about Alcoa and the company’s tradition of being the first to report quarterly earnings. I wrote this article for Pieces, an online zine that explores everyday materials (this month:  aramids!  Check it out!).  One reason I love writing for Pieces is that it stretches my imagination.  The writers have to brainstorm ideas about a random substance, and I love the challenge of coming up with interesting articles that can twist on the theme.

When my editor assigned aluminum, I instantly thought about Alcoa and their quarterly earnings tradition.  I used to work in a research library at a consulting firm, and quarterly earnings were a big deal to my clients, the consultants.  One time I had a long list of companies, whose earnings I had to distribute AS SOON as they came out.  Not every company was kind enough to list a specific time when they’d release their info.  Often you got a vague “before market opens” or “after market closes.”

“Before market opens” can be pretty early, and there were quite a few early mornings for me that earnings season.  Get out of bed around 5 AM, monitor the earnings, catch a cat nap, monitor them again, repeat cycle as necessary, distribute earnings, shower, and go to work.  I always knew when my earnings monitoring would be important, and that was when Alcoa made their earnings announcement. I’d always wanted to know why Alcoa released everything so early (compared to other companies–when you’re waiting for companies to release their earnings, and it takes over a month for them to do so, you start getting impatient). It was nice to have the chance to get to the bottom of that question.

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