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Grim Reaper Business Booming In Dour Economy
FREEHOLD, N.J. (CAP) - As the economy continues to show some small signs of life, nowhere is that improvement more apparent than in the sometimes lucrative business of death. New Jersey-based Grim Reaper Holdings Inc. (GRHO) has released preliminary third quarter figures which show business up 36 percent over the previous two quarters.
"Summer is usually a pretty busy time for us, but this year was just crazy," said Grim Reaper hiring manager Marshall Blythe. "We've actually increased staff by 25 percent this fiscal year alone, and still have two reqs to backfill before Christmas."
The deaths of such notable celebrities as David Carradine, Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson paved the way for a very busy summer that also included the likes of Walter Cronkite, John Hughes, Eunice Shriver, Ted Kennedy, and most recently, Patrick Swayze. Grim Reaper officials say even they have trouble keeping track of everyone.
"You know, it's not just Grim - there's a whole team here who put in some long hours and late Friday nights to stay on top of all the work," said shop steward Joe Mason. "Sure, Grim has put in some 70, 80-hour work weeks, but death is a team effort; it's not a one-man show."
Analysts say it's unlikely that Grim Reaper Holdings can keep up its torrid pace for yet another quarter and are anticipating a smaller increase through the winter months, if not an outright drop. Pundits have labeled the company "the Microsoft of death" and say stockholders are unlikely to demand any changes even if the news over the next couple of quarters is, well, grim.
"Execution in the marketplace has been well ahead of Wall Street expectations," said Goldman Sachs economist Narinder Toth. "Board members, shareholders, everyone can feel the energy, the commitment that Grim Reaper Holdings has to their objective.
"When they took [Jessica Simpson's dog] Daisy from us, the marketplace knew this was a company that meant business," Toth added.
However, others like economist Joseph Stiglitz wonder if Grim Reaper is over-extending itself and bound for a fall from which it may not recover. Stiglitz pointed to the case of Daisy as well as John Travolta's son Jett and Mike Tyson's daughter Exodus as examples of a company stretching itself too thin.
"Karl Malden, Bea Arthur, Ricardo Montalban - okay, they were all up there in age," said Stiglitz. "But Billy Mays? Adam Goldstein? Steve McNair? This is a company getting too big for its britches, and people will come to expect too much.
"If you ask me, the time is ripe for a competitor to step in and restore some grace and dignity to the business of death that Grim Reaper seems to have forgotten," Stiglitz added.
Grim Reaper's Europe figures won't be included in consolidated results for another quarter due to different reporting schedules. Same-family deaths and non-celebrity demises fell 3.9% last quarter, which was better than the 5.8% decline expected by analysts.
- CAP News Staff
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