Mr. Cook Goes to China

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- And then there was the day that Apple's ( AAPL) CEO Tim Cook went to China. But why? That depends on which media outlet is doing the chattering.

To The Financial Times, Cook is making his inaugural trip as CEO (Steve Jobs never went) primarily to roll out stores. Wrote The Financial Times: "Apple has only five stores in mainland China and one in Hong Kong, and analysts reckon Cook is likely to pump more money into opening new stores."

But before anything else, The Wall Street Journal said Cook traveled to China to meet with officials over the iPad trademark case. The Journal didn't even mention the prospect of adding stores, but brought up the chance of a Chinese acquisition (though they said Apple had $100 billion to play with--not after that dividend.) The Journal also noted that he was "spotted at the Beijing office of the nation's largest mobile operator, China Mobile ( CHL).

China Mobile has said it is in talks with Apple about carrying the company's popular iPhone, which is currently offered by its two competitors: China Unicom ( CHU) and China Telecom ( CHA).

ZDNet ran with a story called: "Apple chief Tim Cook in China: Three things he could be doing." But none had to do with acquisitions. ZDNet mentioned that Cook might be there to smooth troubles at the Foxconn factory or make a deal with China Telecom to carry the iPhone.

Whatever the case, the "could be doing" in the ZDNet headline is an appropriately modest formulation. This is all guesswork--on everyone's part. Not, in the words of Seinfeld, that there's anything wrong with that. A portion of trading involves guesswork, especially with a tight-lipped company like Apple. But guesswork should be labeled as such. Otherwise, when it comes to Tim Cook's magical mystery tour to China, traders will be lulled into believing any single media outlets actually knows what it's talking about.
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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