Don't Look to Intel for Market Guidance

Investors mired down in coverage of these companies can see clearly by asking three questions.
Author:
Publish date:

Sometimes The Business Press Maven really needs to drain the swamp, and sometimes, particularly on coverage of a large company's earnings report, nothing does the drainage effort better than laying down a line of simple questions thrown out over many articles.

Welcome, readers, to

Intel

(INTC) - Get Report

meets the Meadowlands swamps.

Now let the draining begin by reviewing the coverage:

Does Intel truly "defy" the technology slowdown to the extent that we can even ask in a

Wall Street Journal

lead if

fears of a technology slowdown

were "unfounded"?

They Just Don't Get Intel!

var config = new Array(); config<BRACKET>"videoId"</BRACKET> = 1506563963; config<BRACKET>"playerTag"</BRACKET> = "TSCM Embedded Video Player"; config<BRACKET>"autoStart"</BRACKET> = false; config<BRACKET>"preloadBackColor"</BRACKET> = "#FFFFFF"; config<BRACKET>"useOverlayMenu"</BRACKET> = "false"; config<BRACKET>"width"</BRACKET> = 265; config<BRACKET>"height"</BRACKET> = 255; config<BRACKET>"playerId"</BRACKET> = 1243645856; createExperience(config, 8);

Just how firm was the company on those margin targets going forward that are, as

Reuters

puts it,

reassuring investors

about the impact of the economy?

Is any Intel strength a sign of unseen strength in the larger economy or simply rival

AMD's

(AMD) - Get Report

highly visible weakness?

Did that little squeak past revenue forecasts truly, as

The Financial Times

wrote, show immunity to larger economic forces?

And when were those margin forecasts, which they did not even quite hit this quarter, last set? Only

six weeks back

?

Shouldn't that step on your confidence in their current margin forecasts just a bit? As for this quarter's margins, why didn't many mention that Intel was a touch shy on the margins -- even when trumpeting that it was a touch above revenue forecasts?

Moreover, why didn't more media outlets make clear how Intel's quarter was, in large part, a story of manufacturing prowess? It's not as sexy a story as enduring customer demand -- nor as lasting -- but it is an essential factor. Essential too, for those making a connection with the American economy is the fact that about three-quarters of the firm's business comes from overseas.

As an exercise in off-putting arrogance, The Business Press Maven was going to cobble together bits and pieces of other articles to build a decent whole. But as you are reading about Intel today, just keep the questions above in mind and you'll be safe, not sorry. Remember, there was nothing terrible about its report. The key is having all the perspective and not making more of the report than you should, whether you are talking the future of Intel, the technology industry or the entire American economy.

Elsewhere, in light of the news that

Merrill Lynch

(MER)

will write-off another $6 billion-$8 billion this week, this is the only headline we should believe: "

Credit Losses May Not Be Over For Banks

."

This effort by

The Wall Street Journal

, which broke news of the latest, greatest round of write-offs, is pitch-perfect for an area in which no one knows what's on the books.

The Business Press Maven has said this a thousand times in the past months, but even if you have a hunch (as I do) that we are getting toward the end of the write-offs, your assumption has to be that they will continue until we see defined evidence to the contrary. And this latest Merrill write-off is more evidence if you needed it that any articles proclaiming "the last write-off," or worse, refer to the book value of a financial firm, should be balled up and thrown in a swamp.

What do you do when you are probably the smartest man in the business media world? Well, if you are Herb Greenberg, the

Marketwatch

columnist, you quit. Herb himself

broke the news

on his blog. He is going to start a research firm. While The Business Press Maven is a vicious, heartless critic of the business media, though I tried and tried, I could never really nail Greenberg. But if you have a second today, watch what happened the one time the

man broke my heart

.

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.