This is a partial transcript from Your World with Neil Cavuto, January 24, 2002. Click here for complete access to all of Neil Cavuto's CEO interviews.
NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Enron and Conoco: two symbols of the Houston economy. One in corporate turmoil, the other was just called Houston's best large company to work for. One wasn't clear about its earnings. The other giving out more information than even I can handle.
My next guest says the only thing he has in common with Enron now is the city that they work in. Joining me now, the guy doing it right, Archie Dunham, the chairman and CEO of Conoco. Archie, good to have you back.
ARCHIE DUNHAM, CHAIRMAN & CEO, CONOCO: Hi, Neil. It's good to be with you again.
CAVUTO: It's interesting. People always are now doing that Enron comparison, especially in the energy arena. And you were not tempted to get into some of the arcane contract trading and other stuff that used to win them praise, and you doubters back then. Now things are completely reversed.
DUNHAM: Well, we're a very different company than Enron. Of course, they were mostly a trader without a whole lot of hard assets. We've kind of done it the hard way, the old fashioned way. We built a good portfolio.
But I think there's some fundamental differences between our companies. Conoco has a really, hard-nosed, outstanding board of directors. As you say, we have a very transparent accounting system. We try to communicate, probably overly, to the institutions. And so I think we're very different companies. But the whole Enron situation is a tragedy for Houston and our industry.
CAVUTO: Yes, but Archie, are you worried that maybe the cure is worse than the disease, that now we're looking at, you know, really policing all of these accounting companies and the companies themselves to the point that you'll have everything but government auditors looking at your books?
DUNHAM: Well, I think it may end up with excess regulation. But we're really not concerned at all. Our company is very transparent. We've got a great accounting firm that watches after our books and confirms everything that management reports.
As I've said, we've got a great board and a fantastic management team and we're a very transparent company. And so, we're not really concerned about anything that might come down the pike as a consequence of Enron.
CAVUTO: You know, nothing transparent about what happened with earnings. They tumbled as you said that they would last time you were here. Fourth quarter falling 77 percent, largely, I guess, because of this decline in oil prices and, more to the point, I guess we're looking at a pretty mild winter thus far. How does that effect you?
DUNHAM: Well, first of all, let me say that we had a tough quarter, as you state, but we had a fantastic year. We did earn $2.87 a share, which is our second best year in the history of the company. We collapsed our A&B stock into one class of stock. We made the Gulf Canada acquisition. We're going to do the Phillips — the Conoco-Phillips transaction — best year in the history of downstream.
So, it's been really a great year, but we're entering tough times. Energy prices are down about a third. Crude prices are running about $18, $19 a barrel versus $27 or $28 four months ago. We've seen jet fuel demand down. We've seen gasoline demand actually increase recently. So it's going to be a tough quarter.
CAVUTO: So, in other words, you see things picking up or how do you look at it?
DUNHAM: Well, I think the consensus opinion, if you listen to everyone in the industry and even Greenspan this afternoon, we're looking at a turnaround the second half of the year. And so, we're being optimistic and believe that's going to happen in our industry as well.
CAVUTO: All right. Archie Dunham, always a pleasure. Thank you, sir, appreciate it.
DUNHAM: You bet.
CAVUTO: Conoco CEO Archie Dunham.
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