Financial News and Opinions

This week has been a wild one for creative and sometimes content-free financial news reporting. On Tuesday, a full 50 hours before Google announced earnings, Forbes.com ran a news-free piece that opened with the line "The Google gravy train is pulling into the station Thursday." Tuesday's piece recapped previous Wall Street estimates and added zero net news or analysis. Two days later, after Google announced that it snuck in under the expectations wire, the headlines tell a different story. Maybe the gravy train was arriving at Wrongville Station. Isn't there some sort of Pauli exclusion principle for financial reporting that prevents different financial quanta from occupying the same online news site? It's supposed to be news, which means it gets analyzed, interpreted and made more valuable than the raw data.

But here's an even better one: After Yahoo! announced earnings earlier this week, a number of financial analysts reduced their opinions of the stock's potential -- that is, once the bad news was out, they said "Sell!" If you followed their advice, you'd be shaking your head on Friday with Yahoo! Up! 50%! On! Microsoft! Bid! Analysts are supposed to do analysis - build models, make predictions, form opinions and derive a reasonable expectation for those variables controlling the stocks and industries they follow. Some of them do the work, in Mark Cuban's words, but some only replay the information underlying the news. Just because we can (and do) get news more quickly online doesn't mean it should suffer from quality or integrity.

I'm off to the Sun Analyst Summit in the morning, our annual conclave for industry and financial analysts -- folks who in fact do build models and ask hard questions. I usually give our Gartner folks a gentle ribbing since they only give breakfast a 0.9 probability, but that's the spirit of the event: good, open discussion of the market, products and strategies with a high probability of food being involved.

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Hal Stern's thoughts on software, services, cloud computing, security, privacy, and data management

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