Skip to main content

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Earlier this week, I chided Richard Greenfield, an analyst with BTIG Media, for his quarter-cocked coverage of Pandora (P) .

It's pretty tough to match the inanity Greenfield puts out on a regular basis, but some coverage of


(AAPL) - Get Apple Inc. Report

is on par. Blame Gene Munster of Piper Jaffray. Blame Brian White of Topeka Capital Markets. And send


Tiernan Ray to journalism school.

Comments from the bullish, but unassociated, Munster-White duo just this week highlight so much of what is wrong with the unruly dissemination of information from analysts to the media, then from the media to the investing public. Unless you look real hard or get lucky, there's pretty much zero context. And often, it's impossible to find the proper context anywhere, unless you pay for it.

Let's consider Munster first.


Ray relays analysts' comments to the masses on an almost daily basis. I can safely assume that he assembles his summaries after conversations with analysts and by reading through the regular notes and reports they put out. From those talks and handouts, he selects what he thinks is important and passes it along. With that in mind, in many cases, the messenger deserves as much blame as the source.

On Monday, Ray


this tidbit from Munster:

Piper Jaffray's Gene Munster writes that his survey of 100 software developers at last week's WWDC event suggest the company's Apple's grip on programmers is strengthening.

Scroll to Continue

TheStreet Recommends

What does that sentence mean? What does Munster's insignificant data tell us? What should investors take away from a survey of 100 developers at an event where only a few thousand of many thousands were in attendance? That hardly represents reliable science.

Does Munster think investors should act on this? Does Ray think Munster would want them to act on a tiny fraction of what he, presumably, had to say in the referenced note? Does anybody ask critical questions anymore? Or are we just living the dream, willfully throwing our money after a stock on every "aggressively bullish note" (Ray's words) a reporter handpicks for us?

The next selection that Ray uses from White's work certainly could make a provocative headline. And It definitely makes us all aware of how much White loves Apple, but, again, what does it mean? Where's the utility? Where's the meaning? Does dropping 14 words from what, presumably and hopefully, was a much lengthier note do any service whatsoever to the reader, who quite possibly doubles as a trader or investor?

Here's what Ray included from White's note -- verbatim, without an edit:

Brian White of Topeka Capital writes that "investors should think of Apple's market-cap potential in terms of trillions, not billions."

So, once again, from Ray -- zero context. If I was White -- or Munster, for that matter -- I would ask Ray to stop summarizing my stuff. He makes them look worse than I do; in fact, I am trying to help them.

These guys are probably still paying off the student loans that supported their educations. They're smart guys. They're heavy hitters. Ray might be going through the motions when he writes his summaries, but that certainly does not mean otherwise credible guys like Munster and White should follow suit.

I don't care if they're AAPL cheerleaders at heart, but it should infuriate Munster and White that Ray (and I know it's not intentional) presents them as not only cheerleaders, but shoddy analysts who throw out survey results and bullish one-liners like, in and of themselves, they're supposed to mean something.

Analysts on Wall Street have a responsibility to ensure that the chunks of their notes that get disseminated to free audiences include some context. Or at least they should have this responsibility. And, even more so, reporters such as Ray must ensure that they do not cherry pick data that makes the analyst look bad and does very little, if anything, for the reader-investor.

Quite frankly, White's comment -- in isolation -- is nothing short of dangerous. With context, it's not much better.

Why should investors consider "Apple's market-cap potential in terms of trillions, not billions," particularly in a stock market where valuation obviously means very little? As stated, it sends the message that not only is Apple undervalued, but it's simply a matter of time before investors value it as a trillion-dollar company.

To his credit, Ray provides slightly more context, as he expands on Munster and White's comments in separate follow-up articles. I stress the word "slightly."


his expansion

on Munster's thoughts only further highlights the inanity of the survey.

The color

Ray provides on White's bullish take just reinforces what's wrong with the Wall Street analyst establishment. They run some numbers. The numbers spit out a stock price. Then they set a price target -- a patently absurd price target of $1,111 on AAPL, in White's case.

At day's end, you are busy. Readers of financial Web sites juggle multiple tasks. They cannot and do not read everything. If you were unfortunate, you might have stumbled on Ray's incredibly slim summary and not his

slightly thicker

follow ups. If you're fortunate, you have access to these analysts' entire body of work (and you take it with a grain of salt).

I have a solution.

Analysts like Munster and White should demand that reporters such as Ray publish the full report or nothing at all. If that's not workable for


-- and I can understand why it might not be -- then just scrap the useless and paltry summaries. If it's unworkable for analysts to give away complete notes and research reports, then they should agree to cut back on their public notoriety and five daily minutes of fame.

As it stands, having a reporter pick and choose information, generated by somebody else, for a sophisticated audience insults that audience's intelligence. And, for some members, it ultimately puts their cash at risk.


This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.

At the time of publication, the author was long P