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And then there was the time the business media got it right and still ended up getting it wrong.

The Business Press Maven is talking here about


and its big call about

Archer Daniels Midland


. Actually, its two big calls -- which went in different directions.

Before your head spins fast enough to lift your feet from the ground, let The Business Press Maven explain.

In November,


came out with a big call based on large and slowly unfolding trends. For various reasons related to broad developments in national and international food and energy production and consumption, the much-loved Archer Daniels Midland was headed toward a more-challenging future. And as befits a challenge when a company's future is based on broad trends in national and international food and energy consumption, it was destined to be big.


Disappointment can hit especially hard



told us in the lead.

Then guess what happened?

Well, since that Nov. 19 article, Archer Daniels Midland has gone down by about a third. It was trading at about $37 when the first


article came out, and it's now at less than $25. Never mind that most of the trends


spoke about didn't have time to kick in yet. Or that the stock market has been most difficult, taking a lot of stocks down a third for no good reason. Or even that in what might be a fluke-ish blip and certainly has nothing to do with long-term, underlying trends, the dollar has strengthened somewhat, hurting grain exporters and ethanol makers. ADM does both so was bound, in the short run, to be hit by that.

But despite all near-term reasons for the stock to come off and no time for the long-term reasons to take hold and do their damage, guess what


did on Wednesday?

It came out with an all-clear.

Specifically, it said that the roughly 30% selloff was overdone. Apparently,


holds dear the thought that an overbought stock roiled by trends larger than itself in two of the biggest industries in the history of world commerce should go down somewhere in the middle of 0% and 30%. Say, 15%.



in its


: "Though facing considerable headwinds, shares of the food and ethanol producer have also gotten awfully cheap."

So disappointment will hit hard at $37. But at $25, with the same formidable headwinds in place, it's "awfully cheap."

Let The Business Press Maven interject a note of sanity here.

The stock-picking business is a tough one. The toughest part about it is trying to predict these giant trends in world commerce. As a result, if you are going to do well, you have to believe that your big calls will have a payoff that will allow for all the inherent risk. A nearly guaranteed way to lose is to, as


did, get too cute about your actions and predictions. Headed for the cliff at $37 because of circumstances that, still in place at $25, temporarily make you reverse course? Take it from your friendly neighborhood Business Press Maven: If you are going to risk a big call, you have to get into it for more than a 15%-or-so move or you'll be headed to debtor's prison before you are gray.


savvy original take that the prospects of corn-based ethanol, despite financial market excitement and government mandates, would eventually dim, is only starting to take hold. Same goes for the development of capacity in food storage, and ADM had been benefiting from scarcity for quite a while.

Those are headwinds that will be in place for a while for ADM investors. Heed the original


article on the company and crumple the second.

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;

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