WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. (TheStreet) -- How is this for an epic fail in news judgment: report on a Wall Street analyst utterance without any perspective or counterargument? That is exactly what happened with a Goldman Sachs research note on Amazon (AMZN) - Get Report.
A Goldman Sachs analyst perused comScore data and surmised that Amazon was wilting. See, comScore reported overall online shopping numbers this holiday season up 15% from last and, traditionally, Amazon exceeded that level of growth by 23 percentage points. That would put its earnings well below Wall Street expectations.
That's all Goldman wrote so ... that's all much of the media wrote. Grim headlines followed from the likes of
: "Amazon shares dip on growth concerns" and "Amazon Shares Dip on Wall Street Fears: What Investors Need to Know" from Motley Fool.
Despite it's headline promise, Motley Fool didn't tell you what you really needed to know: Goldman was trafficking in old and flawed data. Sure, since time immemorial Amazon has been running above the comScore average at the rate Goldman used in their calculations. But a lot has changed in online shopping and over the past three quarters, Amazon has been soaring 33 percentage points above comScore.
Why? In part because comScore calculates desktop computer shopping, but nothing from mobile devices. A decisive oversight, considering the advent of SmartPhone shopping, a modern juggernaut.
, which do more than play stenographer to Goldman's report but quote more realistic ones, make this clear. There is often perspective in counterargument and, especially in this case, that's what investors need.
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.
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