Voice of Aflac Duck Gets His Goose Cooked

Gilbert Gottfried
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Gilbert Gottfried

Gilbert Gottfried, now the former voice of the Aflac duck, was fired on Monday by his employer for jokes he made about the Japanese tsunami on Twitter.

Gottfried's Twitter feed-- where the jokes originally appeared, along with lots of other humor that can't be republished by CNBC – is located here.

This isn't the first incident where a high-profile employee was fired over the content of a tweet. In July of 2010, Octavia Nasr, a former CNN Senior Editor covering Mideast affairs, was fired when she praised a controversial Muslim cleric who had just died. But the Aflac case is the first one, that I know of at least, where a celebrity was fired for tweeting jokes.

But Gottfried may be more than just a victim of his own bad taste and bad timing: He may also be a victim of Aflac's bad earnings exposure as well.

Yesterday, Meredith Lepore at Business Insider reported thatAflac had the worst exposure of all major American insurance companies to the devastation in Japan.

In fact, according to Aflac's CEO, Sanford Bernstein, it is possible that Aflac will miss a key component of its earnings expectations as a consequence.

Business Insider quotes Bernstein as saying:

"Risks to AFL’s ability to miss our price target include a prolonged decline in sales growth in either the company’s US or Japan segments. Potential challenges in Japan include increased competition and increased regulatory scrutiny around sales or claims paying practices. A long-term decline in sales trends could cause the company to miss our double digit EPS growth expectation. A second risk is if the margin improvement we expect out of AFL Japan fails to materialize. Credit losses represent a third risk."

So the moral of the story is more than don't tweet anything you wouldn't want published on the front page of a newspaper – it's know your risk exposure and hedge accordingly.