Our Pickens Plan: Stop Listening To T. Boone


Once again, T. Boone Pickens sat in front of CNBC’s cameras this morning to talk about alternative energy, oil and anything else that popped out of his mouth.

While the genial Okie’s calm, cooing voice is a welcome shift from the aural assaults of Larry Kudlow, few people have been as spectacularly, stridently and consistently wrong as T. Boone in the past year.

Here’s a quick 2008 lowlight reel:

He bought 10 million shares of Yahoo to support his buddy Carl Ichan, but sold when it was clear things wouldn’t work out, possibly losing $50 million on that bet.

Overall, he lost $2 billion in the stock market last year. Most people lost a ton in the market, so we can’t bash him too hard on this front. But his hedge fund that focuses on energy stocks was down almost 30% through August. A smaller commodity-focused fund was down 84%. Aren’t those supposed to be his areas of expertise? Every time there’s an energy conference or a discussion of oil sure enough, there’s T. Boone Pickens talking, talking, talking.

It’s probably not his expertise as his guesses about oil have been as consistently wrong as can be. In November he said oil would at $100 at the end of 2009, today he revised it to $75 at the end of the year. In May of 2008 he assured us oil was heading to 150 by the end of 2008. Then in August while oil was sliding back to earth he said oil would go to $110 maybe, but definitely not below $100. He got it wrong. Nothing wrong with that, but at some point you throw your hands in the air, smile and say, “I have no idea.”

What else is the investor up to? Well, he spent $100 million over eight years on water in Texas, which could eventually make him $165 million a year according to BusinessWeek, but thus far it’s just been a big boondoggle. Not too unlike his big wind farm, which is on hold right now.

Let’s not forget he’s also burning at least $58 million on the Pickens Plan, which amounts to little beyond him talking his book. It’s not exactly a secret that Pickens is invested in natural gas, wind and water. But if you want to know where he’s invested, at what amount, don’t bother with his Pickens Plan website. We scanned it for disclosures, but we couldn’t find it. (If we’re wrong on this, please let us know.)

What’s the harm in letting the Pickens’ fans know how much he stands to gain from the implementation of the Pickens Plan? If he’s gonna transform a nation’s energy habits, then he can at least be upfront about how much he’ll earn.

And don’t even get us started with his unrelenting attacks on the Middle East, which amount to little beyond fear mongering which appeals to some of our basest instincts.

Look, everyone is having a rough year. It’s a tough market out there and it’s easier to find people that got it wrong than people that got it right. But, we don’t need to see this guy rolled out every time there’s a mention of a wind turbine, because he is more and more just a (natural) gasbag.

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