Beware the Bloggerwocky

With the proliferation of financial blogs it is becoming increasingly difficult to determine the credibility of supposed financial gurus and their stock recommendations. Compounding this is that popular Internet portals are publishing blog posts that appear to have compelling information but in reality are simply the regurgitate of already-public information (i.e., news releases, corporate Web sites, SEC filings, etc.), often with a little extra hyperbole to further entice the reader.
 
Public companies like to see their stocks go up. And glowing remarks are usually welcome, wherever they may come from. But what happens when an uninformed or even malicious blogger with a reasonable following begins to spew negative information? All of a sudden you find yourself at the mercy of an online smear campaign.
 
But before the vitriolic ping pong match begins, do your homework. Identify the source of the information. Study the extent of their “news” delivery platform. Google them. Use sites like www.alexa.com to see who else links to their blog. Study social networking sites, too. This will give you a reasonable sense for the author’s credibility. Then assess the content. If you find factually false and misleading information, there may be grounds for libel. If there are no factual errors and the source is simply expressing his or her opinion, make sure the context of the opinion is not written as a fact reported by the company. Look for transparency and see if the source discloses whether they are shareholders, long or short. This may provide further insight into their motives. And finally, be prepared to issue a formal statement to correct any misinformation before it spreads on the Internet. Nonsense verse can be fun and even enduring but when it challenges a company’s hard earned reputation, it may be time to remove that vorpel pen, go snicker-snack, take the bloggers head and go galumphing back.

 

Evan Pondel, epondel@pondel.com
 
 

Ballhawk for a Living

Are you an IRO who recently lost his or her job because of a corporate downsizing?  An investment banker who was let go because deal flow has slowed considerably?  A hedge fund manager whose fund went belly up during the great stock market meltdown of 2008-2009?
 
All you need is a baseball glove and a ticket to your local stadium and you could soon be flush with cash (or baseball memorabilia worth a ton of cash).
 
Ballhawks travel the country’s baseball parks aiming to catch a milestone ball and then profit off of it.  Take Philip Ozersky, the man who caught Mark McGwire’s 70th home run in 1998.  He sold the homerun ball at auction for $3 million. Or Zack Hample who says he has been to 46 stadiums, but who keeps most of the balls he’s caught for his personal collection. On the other hand, according to the Wall Street Journal, he charges ballhawks-in-training $500 to attend games with him and learn the tricks of the trade.  There are actually websites that help ballhawks stake their prey, with information such as which players are coming up on landmark home runs, the dimensions of the ballpark and information about the opposing pitcher.  Who knew?
 
So, whatever your current employment situation, have faith (and fun).  Go enjoy a game, a beer and a hotdog and you may just find yourself a new lucrative career.  Just don’t go to the new Citi Field in New York where the outfield bleacher seats will set you back as much as $70 per ticket.

 

Laurie Berman, lberman@pondel.com
 
 

Stay-cation Trumps Vacation

Plane ticket?  Check.  Sunblock?  Check.  Huge floppy sunhat and beach ball?  Check and check.  Money?  Check … or was that credit?
 
Going on vacation is on everyone’s minds these days as summer unfolds.  But with cash flow woes weighing on our savings accounts and credit scores, how about planning a “stay-cation” instead?  Part of enduring a recession is to accept that our plan for a great summer getaway dwindles as we delve into a bleak financial underworld.  However, with new situations come new and recycled ideas and experiments … a renaissance, so to speak.
 
By staying local, people can support their communities and businesses without breaking the bank.  Organize an itinerary of sightseeing activities that draws tourism to your area.  Rediscover museums, parks, and local eateries all the while reestablishing your connection to home.

 

PondelWilkinson, investor@pondel.com