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FedEx: Mixed Bag

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The media is where complexity goes to die and FedEx (FDX) reported complex earnings. The delivery giant is often seen as an economic bellwether, so it's important to get it right. Yet, too many in the media got it wrong.

For its 3rd quarter, FedEx reported earnings that beat expectations, though revenues were a bit light. The company subsequently lowered expectations for the rest of this year, but raised them ever so slightly for next.

Got that? Seriously, look in the dictionary under "mixed bag" and you'll probably see FedEx. So how did the media capture that complexity? You didn't really ask that, did you?

The stock went down, so too many headlines--rather than capturing reality--merely frowned. Behold the over simplification apparent in this Marketwatch headline: "FedEx shares down on outlook."

And Seeking Alpha went with an alarmist: "FedEx: The Economy Is Weaker Than Expected."

Ironically, the economy probably will be weaker than expected, especially in China and Europe. But there was more to FedEx's earnings--and multiple forecasts--than that.

Investor's Business Daily touched its toe upon some of this complexity in a headline that at least tries to capture the whole picture: "FedEx Mails In Strong Profit Gain, But Shares Fall On Worries About Europe."

Complexity does not always have to go to the media to die.

At the time of publication, Fuchs had no positions in any of the stocks mentioned in this column.

Marek Fuchs was a stockbroker for Shearson Lehman Brothers and a money manager before becoming a journalist who wrote The New York Times' "County Lines" column for six years. He also did back-up beat coverage of The New York Knicks for the paper's Sports section for two seasons and covered other professional and collegiate sports. He has contributed frequently to many of the Times' other sections, including National, Metro, Escapes, Style, Real Estate, Arts & Leisure, Travel, Money & Business, Circuits and the Op-Ed Page.

For his "Business Press Maven" column on how business and finance are covered by the media, Fuchs was named best business journalist critic in the nation by the Talking Biz website at The University of North Carolina School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Fuchs is a frequent speaker on the business media, in venues ranging from National Public Radio to the annual conference of the Society of American Business Editors and Writers.

Fuchs appreciates your feedback; click here to send him an email.

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