I'm throwing in the towel. I've had it. It's not worth fighting this battle anymore. For the past dozen years, I've made a living, in large part, by pointing out what can go wrong at companies. It's a dirty job, I always figured, but somebody had to do it. I even thought it was noble: While not helping people make money (whaddaya want, I'm a died-in-the-wool-cynical-journalist), I was helping them avoid losing money, especially in this miraculous market where risk is considered a four-letter word. That even became part of an advertising theme at
Sure, there have been wild swings in recent years, like those back in the
days. But the truth always prevailed.
But this time, I tell ya, it
different. It's different because of
, which has become the clearinghouse for the dissemination of timely information. It's different because of the Internet, which not only has helped investors access a wealth of information, but helps them communicate with one another -- creating the ultimate in herd-like mentality. And it's different because of a growing number of momentum-driven hedge funds that care only about stock prices, not companies. They play splits. They play short positions. They play yet another press release filled with vapor.
The power of all of those things, combined, is so enormous as to appear downright unstoppable.
really deserve to rise 24% yesterday because of higher chip prices? Should
really have popped 7.5% just because it announced a 3-for-1 stock split? Did
really deserve to gain 7% just because I mocked its promotional ways in my column
yesterday? Of course not, but that's the nature of this market. It's the nature of this game. It's the nature of this new era of Wall Street.
Let's face it, this is a market that rewards the instincts of traders, not the brains of investors. This is a market that likes stories, not substance. This is a market that cheers
. How many more times must I open yet another email like this one from some guy named Clint, who wrote: "How much do the shorts of SFP
Salton pay you to write the kind of one-sided reports that you write?"
Life's just too short. That's why, despite the tremendous encouragement I receive from my readers, I'm calling it quits.
It's much easier to write the positive stories and pass along the positive messages, which is why starting today I will start pumping them so you can dump them! We're all in this togeth ... wait, I just got this email from my editor responding to my idea for this column. "Today is March 1," she wrote, "not April 1."
Oops! Just call me the king of bad timing. Never mind.
Exit ... Stage Left
Back to reality:
no stranger to this column, has long been on the radar of short-sellers, who have questioned the company's ability to continue to grow as fast as Wall Street has been expecting. It was a risk-filled strategy that involved paying top dollar for rock promoters, sports-management companies and other entertainment-related venues. Despite the questions and the stock's wallowing, however, my
year-end report card included an incomplete "to those masochistic enough to question SFX Entertainment and its brainy CEO, Robert F.X. Sillerman."
The question, to which the shorts didn't even know the answer, was what Sillerman's exit plan would be.
Now we know: He's selling his company to
Clear Channel Communications
, which itself is a roll-up of radio stations, and he's riding into the sunset. Now the question, which arbs are likely to toss around in coming days: Is Clear Channel overpaying for a company that was known for overpaying? As this column is fond of saying: Won't know until after the fact.
Herb Greenberg writes daily for TheStreet.com. In keeping with TSC's editorial policy, he doesn't own or short individual stocks, though he owns stock in TheStreet.com. He also doesn't invest in hedge funds or other private investment partnerships. He welcomes your feedback at
firstname.lastname@example.org. Greenberg also writes a monthly column for Fortune.
Mark Martinez assisted with the reporting of this column.