Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Business English Greetings — and News of American Greetings

When I was growing up, I loved receiving greeting cards in the mail. My favorite greeting cards had Snoopy
Growing up, I loved to receive Snoopy
greeting cards in the mail. Now I'm just
happy to get any birthday cards in the mail!
on them. I would save and review them for years. So when e-cards came along and people stopped sending cards in the mail, I was not very happy. I am sure the management of American Greetings, a large greeting card company, was not so happy either!

In today's Wall Street Journal, we learn that American Greetings is saying goodbye to the stock market and taking itself private. The article is entitled "Wishing You a Fond Farewell – From the Stock Market." Let's read the beginning of the article and improve our business English. Words and expressions we'll explore are highlighted in blue and defined below:

It is an industry that thrived in the days when the printed word was king and correspondence went through the mail. But like many other businesses, it was battered by the rise of lively, innovative and often free competitors online, where stamps and handwriting aren't needed.
Welcome to the greeting-card industry, where the biggest publicly traded U.S. company in the business has decided to bid adieu to the stock market, announcing plans to go private. The Weiss family—descendants of the Polish immigrant who founded American Greetings Corp. shortly after his arrival in Cleveland in 1905—on Monday said it agreed to pay $18.20 in cash per share to remove the company from the public markets.   The greetings-card business has seen better days, and American Greetings today is worth almost 65% less than it was at its peak in 1998. Like many media companies, it was hit hard by the Internet, with customers finding new ways to share old sentiments like birthday or holiday greetings. Tech companies including Apple and Facebook launched their own electronic greetings businesses, letting their customers send physical or electronic gifts and greetings on a birthday or anniversary.

(to) thrive – to do very well; to succeed; to flourish (in this case, the greeting card industry was thriving ... back in the days when people actually sent their greetings by regular mail rather than via the Internet).

correspondence – communication by letters (in other words, people writing to each other)

battered by – hurt seriously by (Note: this can be used in the financial sense, as it is here. It can also be used in the physical sense as in: Our beach house in New Jersey was battered by Hurricane Sandy).

publicly traded company – a company that trades on the stock exchange (versus a private company that is owned by one family or group of investors)

(to) go private – to remove a company from the stock exchange, so it is once again owned by private investors. This is the reverse process of "going public" in which a company lists itself on the stock exchange. 

(to) have seen better days – to be in a period of decline or slow sales (yes, American Greetings definitely has seen better days -- 15 years ago, it was worth a lot more than it is today).

(to be) hit hard by – to suffer losses due to something (in this case, American Greetings was hit hard by the rise of e-cards, with consumers sending more greetings by Internet than by regular mail, or "snail mail.")

For more business English idioms, check out the new app for iPad & iPhone, Business English Power Idioms. It's a cheap and fun way to work on your business English!

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