Going Public: Reporting on IPOs

A few months ago I moderated a training teleconference for reporters as part of the continuing education program of SABEW, the Society of American Business Editors and Writers. The teleconference focused on Initial public offerings—the first sales of stock issued by a company to the public.

The teleconference is now available as a podcast you can play at any time to hear a panel of experts decipher the language of IPOs and discuss how reporters should cover companies as they prepare to go public. We talked about how reporters can use the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s EDGAR database to access IPO prospectuses and which nuggets of information and red flags they should look for in SEC documents when researching companies that are about to go public.

On the panel was John Divine, an investing reporter at U.S. News & World Report, Lauren Hirsch the deals team leaders and correspondent at Thomson Reuters in New York, Tom Taulli who has been involved in the IPO market since the mid-1990s when he co-founded Web IPO, and Jack Willoughby, a senior editor at Barron’s who wrote the financial publication’s “Offerings in the Offings” column.

You can hear the podcast here.

Trump and the Employment Report, fact and fiction, Pt. 2

Numbers are funny things. Even though they appear to be absolute, a clever manipulator can twist them to make pretty much any point he wants to make. Take President Trump’s statement from February: “Ninety-four million Americans are out of the labor force.” It might seem preposterous but it is correct, as the great sage Obi-Wan-Kenobi once said, “from a certain point of view.”

It is the number you get if you take the total U.S. population 16-years of age and older and subtract the people the BLS says are in the labor force. That number includes everyone who is retired, and most high-school, college, graduate or vocational school student. It also includes the disabled, homemakers, some self-employed and those living off their investments.

My guide to reporting the employment report continues at businessjournalism.org….

Trump and the Employment Report, fact and fiction, Pt. 1

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released its Employment Situation Report for February on March 10, showing a healthy 235,000 gain in payroll employment. Asked what President Trump thought about the numbers, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said, “I talked to the president prior to this, and he said to quote him very clearly,” Spicer said. “They may have been phony in the past, but it’s very real now.”

Many of the reporters present laughed. I cringed.

Over the years on public television’s Nightly Business Report, I filed countless “numbers” pieces. The monthly employment reports were most closely watched. For better or worse these reports often had an immediate financial market moving impact, making them lead stories for a market driven broadcast.

I cringed because I believe attempts to undermine the credibility of these reports do a great disservice.

Continues at businessjournalism.org….

Financial Market Reporting, Part 6: Derivatives

Chicago Board Options Exchange
Chicago Board Options Exchange

My series at the Reynold’s Center continues with thoughts on reporting the derivative markets. These are investment vehicles that are derived from others, appropriately called derivatives. Investors do not own the underlying asset, but bet on how that asset will perform.

 

 

Options are a common type of derivative. In 1973 the Chicago Board of Trade created the Chicago Board Options Exchange, which at first operated out of an old cloak room off the CBOT trading floor. The CBOE traded listed stock options. Unlike futures, options were not a commitment but gave the buyer an option to buy a stock for a certain period of time.* The option is based on the stock, called “the underlying.”

Continue at businessjournalism.org….

Lunch with Paul Kangas, Nightly Business Report

Paul Kangas

I remember one specific lunch with Paul Kangas. Silly, isn’t it? I spent a fair amount of time with Paul during the many years I was associated with public television’s Nightly Business Report. That included several meals with a man who, among many other things, appreciated good food and drink. Why would one particular lunch stand out?

It was 1990. A year before I had moved from Chicago, my hometown, where I worked for CBS, NBC, and as a freelance contributor for NBR, to New York. Here I was NBR’s New York Bureau Chief and Senior Correspondent. Paul had been with NBR since it first went on the air in 1979. A former stockbroker, Paul was at first the broadcast’s stock commentator. Later he added co-anchor to his role.

But Paul was so much more than his title implies. On a broadcast that itself defined a new role for business news on television, Paul set the standard for both the program and the industry.

Continue reading

Financial Market Reporting, Part 5: “Real Stuff,” Commodities and Futures Contracts

The latest in my series on financial market reporting is live at the Reynold’s Center:

Previous posts introduced the markets and the best-known investment vehicles, stocks and bonds. But even if you don’t own one of those investments, you probably have placed a considerable amount of money in a different asset class, although you may not consider these to be investments.

I’m referring to real assets, physical items, the “stuff” we accumulate throughout our life. If you’ve ever sold an item on eBay, you know what I mean. You might have sold a used item you’ve upgraded or outgrown. Or you could have sold a “collectable,” an item you bought in the belief that its value would grow over time (Beanie Babies, anyone?) These are “real” assets.

Continued at businessjournalism.org….

Insider Trading and the Business Reporter

 

There is a little landmine hidden in the law just waiting to trap the unsuspecting business journalist. Jail could be the result.

The law and journalism are so closely connected that students pursing a journalism degree are almost always exposed to take at least one course on the law. Topics often include covering government and the courts, avoiding obstacles like subpoenas and defamation claims, and the basics of intellectual property, both the use of others’ and the protection of your own.

But for the business reporter, a not-so-well-known aspect of securities law poses a very real risk. This is the insider trading rule which bans the trading of securities “on the basis of” material, non-public information.

My blog continues at the Reynolds Center….

Financial Market Reporting, Part 4: Bonds and Bond Markets

Bonds gets no respect. It’s not clear why. For many companies, institutions and investors, bonds are the vehicle of choice.
Companies generally issue stock to the public to raise money. In issuing stock, companies give up ownership of the firm to shareholders, who share in future profits and growth. They also share in the risk the company will fail, or at least not live up to expectations. Not every investor is comfortable with that prospect.

Continue reading at the Reynolds Center….

Financial Market Reporting, Part 3: Stock Exchanges

Prior to an IPO, a company can offer its shares only to investors deemed to be “sophisticated” under the law and therefore able to handle their own due diligence. These are known as private placements. By process of elimination it is apparent that public stock exchanges serve “unsophisticated investors.” That means most of us. The law imposes fairly stringent reporting requirements on companies which list their shares on public exchanges. And the exchanges themselves, which are considered “self-regulating,” impose their own listing requirements on the firms.

The lesson continues at the Reynolds Center….