Tag Archives: TheStreet.com

Scrutinize Apple at $200/share, don't give it praise

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TheStreet.com media critic Marek Fuchs wants to know why the business press fell all over themselves in reporting that Apple’s stock passed the $200 threshold instead of examining whether the price had gotten too expensive.

AppleFuchs wrote, “Here’s the most important element of this coverage: Since $200 was no direct mark of business accomplishment, an investor needs the business media to be skeptical. A devil’s advocate approach to this rise to $200 would serve investors best. That is not to say that reporters should trash Apple, one of the greatest companies in American history. But no one is perfect, and no move past a benchmark number should be automatically greeted with flowers and chocolate. That does no one good, least of all Apple shareholders, who I know from boatloads of emails are too prone to boosterim to begin with.

“As any good investor will tell you, emotions, like love, are an enemy.

“Let’s quickly review examples of the good and the ugly.

“Motley Fool all but struck up the band in tribute to Apple with this effort. ‘Apple at $200 Is Just the Beginning,’ chirps the headline. Naturally, the Fool could be right; Steve Jobs will certainly go down in history. However, investors are best served by an article that questions a move in a stock they own and tests the reasons they invested in Apple in the first place. Would you buy the stock now?”

Read more here. 

Media can't understand NYT results

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TheStreet.com’s Marek Fuchs is disappointed Wednesday that the business media covering the revenue uptick at The New York Times can’t seem to understand that the reason it happened was due to an extra week and a product coming out earlier.

Marek FuchsFuchs wrote, “Forbes, which mercifully managed to mention the extra week and product, was possibly, in the end, as bad as those that didn’t. That’s because Forbes spoke about the ‘glimmers of hope’ in the monthly numbers despite the caveats. Uh, an extra holiday week on the base of four ain’t really as simple as a ‘caveat,’ and it does seem to outweigh any glimmer, no?

“After the close, CBS MarketWatch ran another story, this one making a motion toward the appropriate measure of caution with this headline: ‘Gannett, N.Y. Times see more classified woes.’

“But still no mention of the extra holiday week.

“So it has come to this: a press release more open and honest about basic issues than the business media reports that follow. No wonder my head is so bent in sorrow that it keeps banging against my desk.”

Read more here.

Interviewing the boss, and letting him off easy

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TheStreet.com media critic Marek Fuchs believes that CNBC anchor Joe Kernen let GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt off easy earlier this week when the company lowered its growth projections next year to 10 percent from 13 percent.

Joe KernanGE, by the way, is the parent company of CNBC.

Immelt wrote, “General Electric cut its 2008 earnings numbers this week, plain and simple. No great shame. International sales are still kicking it. They were saying that they would grow by about 13% and trimmed it to 10%, $2.42 a share, citing the tepid national economy.

“Again: no great shame, but here is the accurate rub. The Wall Street Journal, like TheStreet.com and many others, got it right with its headline: GE Says U.S. Slowdown Will Curb Profits: Immelt Sees Global Sales Boosting Earnings 10%, Short of Most Forecasts. And lead: ‘Chairman Jeffrey Immelt said a slowing U.S. economy would crimp the conglomerate’s earnings next year.’

“Kernen introduced the 10% number vs. S&P earnings growth of ‘just 5% to 6%.’ But, uh, what about the old 13%, which is really all that matters to GE shareholders? He then quoted Immelt’s previous statement about how the 10% was ‘in the bag, we can do this.’ But, again, what about the 13% that they apparently couldn’t do?

“Not a huge deal and understandable, considering the economy. But to not mention it? Say it ain’t so, Joe. How ironic, huh, that my say-it-ain’t-so moment this week wasn’t about steroids. As I said, I really liked Kernen. How innocent were those days?”

Read more here. 

Herb Greenberg talks business journalism

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Herb Greenberg is senior columnist for MarketWatch and is one of the top business journalists in the country because of his investigative reporting on companies.

His column also appears in the weekend edition of The Wall Street Journal. He joined MarketWatch after six years as senior columnist for TheStreet.com. He previously spent 10 years as a six-day-a-week business columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle. Before that, he was the New York financial correspondent for the Chicago Tribune, where he covered the food and restaurant industries.

Greenberg talked to Talking Biz News about business journalism and how he does his job. What follows is an edited transcript of that e-mail conversation. 

Q: How did you first get interested in business journalism?

A: Through the back door. It was 1974. I had just graduated from the University of Miami. I took a job at the Boca Raton News, then Knight-Ridder’s smallest paper. They had a business section every Sunday. It was a “chore� that was rotated around the newsroom. When it got to me, shortly after I was hired, I did a story about how baggers at the Publix supermarket chain could rise to managers and make pretty good money. I had fun doing it. Remember, this was the post-Watergate era. Everybody wanted to be Woodward and Bernstein. I looked around the newsroom and realized nobody else wanted to do business. It was simple supply/demand.

Herb GreenbergI became the paper’s first-ever business reporter. We were located in area where many wealthy retirees included a Who’s Who of corporate America. It was also a big convention spot with well-known speakers from business and economics. I started interviewing many of them, including the likes of Lee Iacocca, who lived there (wouldn’t let me use my tape recorder), and then-Treasury Secretary William Simon (nice guy), who I tracked down on a beach. This was a heck of a lot more interesting than covering meetings of the city’s recreation commission. The irony is that when I was a copy boy several years earlier at the late and great Miami News, part of my job called for me to check in with a stock broker every day to write down in pencil the local “over the counter� closing quotes. (Why do I suddenly feel ancient?) After that, I swore the last thing I would ever want to be is a business reporter. Most of what I learned was on the job, ratcheting up the education with multiple job changes – each one putting me out of my comfort zone.

I’ve since covered virtually every industry in most parts of the country. And I’ve been blessed with a series of great editors. However, I like to refer to my days at Crain’s Chicago Business in the early 1980s as the boot camp of my career, with Greg David, then managing editor – now editor of Crain’s New York Business — as the drill instructor from hell. It was an absolutely horrible experience, but also the most valuable. It’s the first place I learned about writing with “tensionâ€? and “forward spin.â€? Somewhere in your career (preferably when you’re young) you need to work for a Greg David.

Q: What’s been the biggest change in business journalism during your career?

A: There was the move of business sections from behind sports. There was the doubling, tripling, even quadrupling of business news staffs, many of which have since been cut by half, a third and a fourth. There was the generally more aggressive approach to business reporting at daily newspapers, which put business reporting on par with political and sports coverage. And there was the rise of competition from all kinds of media, including TV and now blogs.

But for me, hands down, the biggest change (which also happens to be the most important change for serious investors) was Internet access to SEC filings. SEC filings are central to what I do, and there is not a day I’m not on the EDGAR site multiple times reviewing multiple documents. Ease of access, almost overnight, changed how I do my job. We always had access. But those of us not in Washington, or without dedicated reporters at the SEC, had to pay exorbitant prices to have the documents faxed or sent overnight – and then hoping they would be the right ones. I’ll go so far as to say the ability to simply search an SEC filing for certain words and phrases, using a computer’s “find� function, is the single best tool in my arsenal.

Q: You’ve written for daily newspapers and for web sites. How does the business journalism differ?

A: It doesn’t –- at least not the actual act of doing journalism. It’s more a matter of form, and along those lines there are two differences, and they apply to all types of journalism, not just business: You no longer are constrained by space, which means you’re not forced to slice out critical copy, or the kicker, at the last minute because a story is too long to “fit.� And, at least in the earlier days, before newspapers starting wising up, you could be more competitive by not having to wait until the early edition of a paper to actually publish.

(more…)

Cramer sells some shares in TheStreet.com

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“Mad Money” host Jim Cramer sold 30,000 shares of Internet financial news web site TheStreet.com, which he helped found a decade ago, according to an Associated Press story.

Jim CramerThe story stated, “In a Form 4 filed with the SEC, Cramer, host of CNBC’s ‘Mad Money,’ reported he sold the shares Thursday for $13.50 to $14.20 apiece.

“The stock sale was conducted under a prearranged 10b5-1 trading plan, which allows a company insider to set up a program in advance for such transactions and proceed with them even if he or she comes into possession of material nonpublic information.

“Insiders file Form 4s with the SEC to report transactions in their companies’ shares. Open market purchases and sales must be reported within two business days of the transaction.”

Read more here.

Target's earnings disappointment coverage also misses expectations

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TheStreet.com media critic Marek Fuchs writes Wednesday that coverage of retailer Target’s disappointing earnings also missed expectations because they failed to take into account that the Minnesota-based company had already lowered its expectations — and still missed the new projections.

TargetFuchs wrote, “Unfortunately for investors, the business media almost always simply compares results with consensus expectations the moment the earnings are reported.

“Those negative things Target said about itself a matter of weeks ago? Already forgotten. As is the bleak forecast it gave in September. But when even the top operators can’t get a handle at how quickly business is turning sour –well, that’s bad, and it should define the take on the quarter.

“But forget about defining. In its article ‘Target Posts Lower Profit, Sees Lackluster Results,’ The Wall Street Journal failed to even mention that Target’s disappointing results were the second beat of disappointment for the cheap-chic chain.

“The article talks about the surface results, a stock buyback, the wanting comparison with Wal-Mart and the potential fate of the credit-card unit. But we hear nothing about how the company already said that the quarter was looking grim. And the results were grimmer still.”

Read more here.

Biz media drooling on new Merrill CEO

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TheStreet.com media critic Marek Fuchs writes Monday that the business media is falling all over themselves in writing about new Merrill Lynch CEO John Thain.

Marek FuchsFuchs wrote, “What they don’t mention are any legitimate criticisms or questions and they do exist, despite Mr. Thain’s readily apparent skills and strengths. ‘Mr. Fix-It,’ as Forbes referred to him in a headline leaves his head post at the New York Stock Exchange with two recent acquisitions not fully digested and still stand as open questions, as The Wall Street Journal points out.

“(The Journal, it also bears mentioning, does give Thain totally premature credit for being like James Dimon of JP Morgan and Richard Fuld of Lehman Brothers. Time for a cold shower, Journal.

“As even Forbes points out in the article calling him Mr. Fix-It, the NYSE has lost market share. Hmmmmm….

“Business Week makes the excellent point that Thain, known as a technocrat, has never gotten his hands messy with the retail brokerage business. Mother Merrill, of course, has 14,000 of the creatures. And trust The Business Press Maven, who used to be one, on this: put your hand out to a retail broker and you are just as likely to pull it back a bloody stump.”

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VC fund buys stake in TheStreet.com

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Technology Crossover Ventures, an investment firm that provides capital to late-stage private and public companies, has agreed to purchase a minority stake in business news Web site TheStreet.com to help pay for its expansion strategy, according to a short story on the Web site.

TheStreet.comThe story stated, “The investment of $55 million represents the purchase of preferred stock and warrants to buy common stock. The preferred stock converts into common stock at $14.26 a share. The five-year warrants permit TCV to purchase approximately 1.1 million common shares of TheStreet.com at an exercise price of $15.686, or a premium of 10%.

“Additionally, Jay Hoag, founding general partner of TCV, will join TheStreet.com’s board.

“‘TCV is one of the largest private equity and venture capital firms, with a strong reputation and history of success,’ said Tom Clarke, chairman and CEO of TheStreet.com. ‘Our alignment with TCV is a clear indicator of our intention to aggressively move forward with our expansion plans as a leading player in the online financial media sector.’”

Read more here. 

TheStreet.com reports record revenue

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Financial news web site TheStreet.com reported Tuesday that its third-quarter revenue increased 24 percent to a record $16.1 million, according to a short story on its site.

TheStreet.comThe story stated, “Marketing services revenue, which comprises advertising and interactive marketing services revenue, totaled $6.9 million for the third quarter of 2007. Advertising revenue totaled $4.6 million for the current quarter, and interactive marketing services revenue, derived from Promotions.com subsequent to the Aug. 2 acquisition, totaled $2.3 million.

“In response to an analyst question during a conference call, Clarke said he expects advertising revenue to accelerate during the fourth quarter, with the firm aiming to eventually grow its ad-sales staff to about 20 from around 14 currently.

“The company reported a 97% year-over-year increase in non-financial advertising revenue in the quarter. Marketing services and paid services revenue in the quarter accounted for 43% and 57% of total revenue, respectively.”

Read more here.

Bank stories all lame

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TheStreet.com media critic Marek Fuchs isn’t too happy with the recent media coverage of the woes at banks.

Marek FuchsFuchs wrote, “Writing and reporting on Wall Street firms in these troubled recent days have generally fallen into one of several categories — all lame. But understanding the categories, by looking at those we have seen and will soon see, can help you accurately gauge what might happen to these reeling behemoths, which has become the financial parlor game of the age.

The first category is one The Business Press Maven calls ‘Now You Tell Us.’ It is epitomized by an article in this morning’s Wall Street Journal titled: ‘In Citi Shake-Up, Broader Troubles.’ You don’t say. But talk about news coming better late than never. And if this is merely a shake-up, by the way, The Business Press Maven is the Queen of Sheeba. But I digress.

“Then there is the category that must be dubbed ‘Firm Grasp of the Obvious.’ Its standard bearer is a Forbes effort, ‘Another Wall Street Chief Falls.’ It’s essentially your boilerplate summary of the disaster that is taking place, from the monstrously large write-offs to the CEOs falling like leaves. Or The New York Times with: ‘Fixing Citigroup Will Test Rubin.’ Uh, I’ll say. Nothing risked, nothing added.”

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