“Analysts and investors on Wednesday speculated on which suppliers might benefit from Apple Inc.’s launch of its new iPhone device,” an Associated Press story began this week.
Does that lede say anything? We may be a bit jaded here at the Audit, but it’s still surprising how often business reporters produce throw-up-your-hands journalism, copy that is somehow made more acceptable under the tenuous guise of “business news.”
Just look at the above AP effort — a vague story full of conditionality. The AP’s lead source is a securities analyst who said in a client note that “Broadcom Corp. is rumored to supply the touch screen controller chip for the iPhone, which could add 2 cents to 7 cents per share to 2007 earnings” and that “The company could also be providing the AlphaMosaic video processor for the new gadget, as it does for current iPods, but is probably not providing the item’s Bluetooth enabler” (all emphases ours). Moreover, this analyst “noted many people believe Marvell Technology Group Ltd. is supplying the iPhone Wi-Fi chip. Sales related to the device could boost Marvell’s 2007 earnings by 2 cents per share, or $36 million in sales, he added.”
A UBS analyst, meanwhile, said in his client note that “the iPhone’s operating system will probably run on an Intel Corp. processor, though following models could use different suppliers. Infineon Technologies AG could also be providing a chip, he speculated.” Yet, incredibly, “Micron Technology Inc. could also be providing chips, including memory processors, the analyst wrote.”
The final hedge came from a Prudential analyst who told his clients about this “favorable development for Cingular, giving it at the very least bragging rights and quite possibly some modest market share gains from wireless users migrating to Cingular in order to get an iPhone.”
Besides some ethereal stock numbers for each company mentioned, the AP could report very little. None of its sources really knew anything with certainty, and so the AP, in turn, did not either.
In the same vein, a Chicago Sun-Times headline yesterday asked, “What’s going on at Sears?”
“The plot thickens as Sears Holdings Corp.’s store sales keep declining while its earnings keep growing, leading to speculation that Sears is ready to buy something,” began the Sun-Times. “Sears has been rumored for months to be considering spending its large cash horde on a possible purchase of Gap, the struggling retail chain, or one of its sister chains such as Banana Republic.”
“Analysts raised their collective eyebrows Wednesday,” continued the Sun-Times, “after Sears Holdings reported it is keeping a healthy cash kitty and has sold property, believed to be parking lots and other out lots such as gas stations, at some Kmart stores.”
The rest of the paper’s story was essentially buttressed by a bunch of numbers, with little attempt to find out whether “Sears is ready to buy something” — at least none that included a quote. “What’s going on at Sears?” is perhaps a question, in this interactive age, that a corps of Sun-Times readers can better determine themselves.
Finally, we turn to CBS News’ Couric & Co., where a correspondent on Wednesday provided a handy update to our recent post on cliché-ridden airline merger prose.
“We learned today that Northwest Airlines and Delta Airlines are the latest partners to take the floor at the great airline consolidation dance,” said the CBS piece, which also included these gems: “It’s not clear if the two struggling carriers are looking to hook up in a full-blown merger or some kind of strategic alliance that falls short of a corporate marriage” and “While Delta publicly insists it would prefer to keep flying solo, it seems the airline would welcome Northwest to the co-pilot seat if that would leave US Airways back at the gate.”
The correspondent added there is continuing “speculation about a possible union of United and Continental” and that AirTran Airways “is still looking for a date.”