Pharmas Market with Mike Huckman

Can't Get A Break From Bristol

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When a major pharma company holds analyst/investor meetings as infrequently as Bristol-Myers Squibb , it's kind of a must-cover event.

But here's why I'll be following BMY's event in New York City this Thursday from my desk, via webcast, here at CNBC HQ.

Longtime "Pharma's Market" readers probably know I have little tolerance or patience for CEOs who don't do TV. It's a way for them to communicate in real time with a big audience of current and prospective shareholders and to answer important questions on the fly. But Bristol Chairman and CEO Jim Cornelius hasn't done and won't be doing any TV interviews.

I mean, c'mon, even Warren Buffett did three straight hours of live TV this morning on "Squawk Box" fielding questions from viewers via social media and email. But Cornelius can't sit down for four minutes with me? Some CEOs are unafraid of the camera and lights and do a good job on TV. Others, not so much. There's a whole industry, much of it populated by former TV news anchors and reporters, devoted to training execs to look and be more relaxed on camera. Expensive coaching like that works for a lot of folks. Others, not so much. I have no idea whether Cornelius has been coached or what his deal is.

The last time BMY held a big meeting with Wall Street, a company spokesperson had officially confirmed a live CNBC interview with Cornelius. So, we went through all of the logistical preparation of arranging cameras and a live satellite hook-up. It's no easy technical task, especially when the meeting is held on a high floor in a Manhattan skyscraper. It's very labor intensive and it takes hours to set up. But at the next-to-the-last minute BMY canceled the interview saying Cornelius was sick. The CEO made reference to his feeling under the weather when he addressed the crowd for several minutes at the meeting, but he soldiered on. And, then, came the last straw. During a coffee break, Cornelius walked into the hallway and started doing an impromptu little news conference with print and wire reporters. It went on for several minutes. But he apparently didn't have the time or the good health to talk to me.

Cornelius still hasn't done a CNBC interview and a spokesman told me this morning he won't be doing one at this week's meeting. There've been scattered reports and rumors he'll be retiring soon. Hopefully, his successor is more of a 20th-century (20th is not a misprint) kind of person and TV savvy and friendly. In 2010, for gosh sakes, it should be a prerequisite for any CEO candidate.

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