OLD Media Moves

Barron's misses the mark on Target

August 20, 2008

TheStreet.com media critic Marek Fuchs writes Wednesday that a Barron’s story about Target Corp.’s recent earnings missed the bulls’ eye when discussing its credit card issues.

Marek FuchsFuchs writes, “To The Wall Street Journal, representative of much of the longer-form work, credit card trouble was the first factor mentioned in the lead sentence to explain why net income fell: ‘Discount retailer Target Corp. will curb store expansion and tighten credit-card terms after reporting fiscal-second-quarter net income fell 7.6% because of credit-card write-offs and weak sales.’

“Even better, the Journal then devoted the next four paragraphs to credit card receivables, before making clear what worked: ‘Target has successfully managed inventories and labor expense controls to avoid profit-sapping mark downs and expenses, Gregg Steinhafel, chief executive, told investors Tuesday. Retail gross margin, a measure of profitability, rose slightly in most areas, he said.’

“Compare this with the work of another Dow Jones publication, Barron’s. It ran a one-paragraph capsule yesterday on Target’s earnings — and if a savvy investor read only that one paragraph, guess what? He wouldn’t have heard word one about the credit card trouble.

“Notice, though, how when a big factor is left on the cutting room floor, the smaller article does not quite add up. The second sentence refers to Target’s ‘dreary fortunes,’ and in the third sentence, we are told that the company ‘did a pretty good job of managing its operations.'”

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