NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Rank speculation that Apple (AAPL - Get Report) will split its stock in order to join the Dow Jones Industrial Average calls to mind a line Jake says to Brett in Ernest Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises: "Isn't it pretty to think so?"
After all, everyone in the media started talking about the possibility after a Sanford C. Bernstein analyst conjured it up out of the blue. It was pretty to think that Apple might split and join the Dow -- and it makes some sense that they would -- but the analyst was going on no concrete information. He had no sources. He was playing an intellectual game called wondering aloud.
Barron's got it right from the start. It said in its lead: "Bernstein Research analyst Toni Sacconaghi this morning speculated in a research note that Apple could be considering a stock split."
But the rest of the media wasn't as responsible. In its lead, BusinessWeek confused an analyst's speculation with actual consideration by Apple: "Apple climbed the most in more than two months after Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. said the company is considering a stock split, which could prompt it to be added to the Dow Jones Industrial Average."IMore, which recently got in on the iPhone5 (read about its possible scoop), ran a headline that put it on the wrong side of this one too: "Apple may split its stock and become a member of the Dow Jones Industrial Average." From a rhetorical question by an analyst, the media goes to "Apple is considering" or "Apple may." And it drove the stock higher. That's problematic. There's nothing wrong with speculation, if labeled responsibly. Asking rhetorically if he were "nuts," CNBC's Herb Greenberg wondered aloud this week whether Amazon.com (AMZN - Get Report) should buy Best Buy (BBY - Get Report). But he made clear that he was merely speculating, playing a game of "what if" or "why not?" "A little thinking outside the box," said Greenberg of the unlikely hook-up. "And, no, I'm not totally nuts," he added. It's pretty to think so, Herb. At the time of publication, Fuchs had no positions in any of the stocks mentioned in this column. This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.