If you learn one invaluable thing from the wit and wisdom of The Business Press Maven, let it be that the subtle shadings of words can carry as much influence on investment performance as more readily apparent numbers.It is with this in mind that, as of this very moment, I would like to strike from the lexicon nicknames for public markets and companies like Mister Softie (nee Microsoft ( MSFT)) and Mister Market (nee the U.S. stock market). I am not normally one to lament the past, but our modern day culture of casualness holds some dangers for investors here. Years ago, when we did have nicknames, they were suitably dignified, like the imposing Big Blue ( IBM ( IBM)) or the respectful Ma Bell ( AT&T ( T)). Today? We get the Mouse House ( Disney ( DIS)). "Put it on the list. Now cross it off!" These nicknames are used quite often by media outlets and the risks, obvious and more subliminal, of infantilizing multibillion dollar companies in the public square are substantial. Chummy names make companies and markets appear more intimate, friendly and fun than they are. Consider the jolly Mister Market. Like
The market is not funny and investors who want to make money, like fisherman considering the sea, must, at root, have reverence. That does not mean you can't laugh along the way, but here you have a nonfunny practice that only implies familiarity, breeding a casualness that can lead to a lack of caution and false sense of knowledge. Beware. And be aware.
Research In Motion Net, Revenue More Than Double . Unlike the Journal, year-over-year comparisons weren't Reuters' bag. They were playing the expectations game: RIM tops profit forecasts, predicts more strength . The most essential element to them was that RIM had exceeded expectations and set new ones.
TheStreet.com's method was to explain why, with the quarterly report seemingly positive, the stock came off in after-market trading. Said TheStreet.com:
High Bar Hits RIM . In other words, TheStreet went the expectations route, too, but, unlike Reuters, zeroed in on why the better-than-expected expectations caused a bit of trouble. The nice morsel of news about RIM's raising expectations higher going forward? That comes not as a statement of fact in the headline, but with a slightly puzzled blink in the lead, a subtle disagreement with the movement of the stock. This is nice to see, as too often coverage gets marching orders from the initial movement of the stock to the news, which is often a function of the whim of traders, that day's market mood or one big buyer or seller. In other words: It has little lasting value of the sort that should define numbers and hold much meaning. Said TheStreet: "Shares of BlackBerry maker Research In Motion (RIMM) dipped as the company failed to blow past analysts' expectations for the second quarter ... even as it guided higher for the current quarter." Again, we speak a lot of the business media's hurtful habits, but no one was really wrong here. This just goes to show you how subtle shadings will get headlines looking in different directions and why any investor worth his or her salt has to rely on more than one article for guidance. In today's world, when you are not chained to any one paper, there's no excuse.