Cree earnings conference call, starring Clint Eastwood as Chuck Swoboda in “Trouble with the Curve.”

What? Well,these calls have been known to be filled with high drama on occasion. Swoboda could have swung and missed in his latest starring role when a surprise question beyond just operating margins, currency exchange rates, and market trends was thrown his way. After all, this past year has been full of challenges for Cree. While not rebuilding like the Yankees, Cree faces many challenges in a tech industry where the game never is the same one day to the next. Just like baseball.

But there were no stunt men to play his role. It was up to Swoboda to respond – on the spot, under the pressure of knowing whatever he said could impact the Durham company he leads.

Corporate suits simply never know what questions a Wall Street analyst will ask when discussing earnings. These guys are tougher to deal with that journalists. Think Randy Johnson vs. AAA.

Such was the case Tuesday evening when Cree’s chair and CEO sat down for his give-and-take with men and women looking for any insight into the company’s future after the latest quarterly report topped expectations.

The play-by-play …

Here’s the last question as poised by Krish Sankar,  Bank of America Merrill Lynch:

“And then a follow up. More of a theoretical question. But I’m just wondering, if it ever comes to it, how easy is it to split the LED component business from the lighting products business, if you had to split it into two different companies?”

Wow. How do you respond, Chuck?

A play-by-play announcer might say: “Sankar winds … Swoboda has to respond. It’s bottom of the ninth, bases loaded, two hours, a three-and-two count in a tie game … Here’s the pitch …”

And Swoboda s-w-i-n-g-s …

“Today, while we get the benefit from being vertically integrated, we have a team that’s dedicated to selling LED components as a core part of our mission, and to sell those to a lot of other companies. So since we’re not working on that right now, I don’t know that I have all the specifics, but they’re semi-independent businesses.

“With that being said, there is an advantage of thinking about things vertically, and that you can move both sides of the variables. And I think that given the nature of where lighting is, and the amount of innovation still in front of us, I remain convinced that there is a benefit to having a vertically integrated relationship, at least for the foreseeable future.”

Home run? Game-winning single? A game-winning walk? A game-ending strike out?

We’ll know …. in the foreseeable future.

(Thanks to financial news website Seeking Alpha for the transcript. read the full account of the game at: