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Two things I learned today

Every morning at 8 o'clock a.m. ET, I join Tony Keller and Amber Kanwar on The Street for a segment titled "The Buzz." The intention is to provide a little context, a little something different beyond the news fare well covered elsewhere on BNN. As I prepare for my report, I always learn a thing or two. Today was no exception. Here's are two things I learned today.

First, I learned that the theme song for the movie Ben was written by Michael Jackson. Why was I talking about this particular movie? Because of the rats in New York City and the fact that some believe that there are as many rats as people in NYC. Post-hurricane Sandy, the question is: "Where are the rats?"

This has nothing to do with stocks or investing (although the disease carried by rats could have health and economic implications in the future). I did learn, however, that the one rat for every person view is a myth (according to Scientific American). And talking about rats at 8 in the morning seemed a good way to get our viewers' attention.

The second thing I learned is more relevant to business TV. We're just approaching the end of earnings season in the U.S. As usual, more companies are beating expectations than missing them. And Corporate America has successfully hoodwinked Wall Street (again). Of the 69 companies that provided guidance for the third quarter, 75% beat the number. If you set the bar low enough, it can be easily jumped.

What about guidance for Q4? Seventy-six percent of the companies that provided an outlook for the next three month reduced that outlook. The biggest culprit was information technology where 17 of 19 companies dropped their forecast. (All data provided by Factset). Not surprisingly, Information Technology has been the worst performer so far this quarter, down 6.6%. But don't let them fool you again. Consumer discretionary stocks (where the guidance had been the weakest on a year-to-date basis) have been the best performing sector so far this year.

Hmmm! I think I just learned something.


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