J.P. Morgan Clients Thirsty in San Francisco
J.P. Morgan research analyst Geoffrey Meacham expects biotech executives attending the bank's healthcare conference in San Francisco this week to strike "a relatively optimistic tone" about their prospects in 2009.
If only the bank's executives shared it.
Yesterday, Dealbreaker sought to confirm the truth behind a reader's tip that J.P. Morgan "gave out a mug with instructions that feel free to use the water cooler but no drinks or snacks or cocktail parties will be provided."
Not exactly, Portfolio.com can confirm. But close. Asked if this rumor was true, one attendee responded:
"Mostly. There is no bottled water. There are coolers in each room at the back with paper cups next to them. There was no opening night cocktail party for the first time that I can recall. And, gone are boxed lunches. In are tables with half sandwiches, bags of chips and pretzels, and fruit. They are, however, providing cans of soda at lunch. No afternoon coffee or snacks, either.
Attendance appears to be down significantly. I don't know the numbers but it definitely feels like there are about a quarter to a third fewer people here this year.
Nonetheless, it's still the best healthcare investors' conference, and the JPM people are very pleasant to deal with."
Let's hope the optimism from the 300 company presenters is enough to keep J.P. Morgan clients from nodding off in the afternoon sessions.
A J.P. Morgan spokesman confirmed that total attendance this year is expected to be 6,600, down about 900 from last year but still in the range of levels in 2006 and 2007.
The spokesman also said that coffee and tea were still being served all day, and that the decision to use water coolers instead of bottled water was an environmental one.
"We have scaled back on some of the peripheral events this year and sought some efficiencies related to the event, but overall attendees should see little difference to the level of service," he said.
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