Analyst Misinterprets Date On UAL Story, Stock Nosedive Ensues

Here’s what really happened with United Airlines’ stock losing 99% of its value on that bankruptcy story from 2002 that people though was new. This is what happens when you let the robots do your thinking for you…

Wired’s Threat Level Blog reports:

A worker at a Miami investment advisory firm called Income Securities Advisors, which publishes news alerts that get distributed through the Bloomberg News Service, did a Google search on bankruptcies this morning and got back search results that included a six-year-old story published in the South Florida Sun Sentinel about the 2002 bankruptcy filing by United Airlines.

The employee mistook the news for a current story — despite the date clearly marked on it…and other information in the article “that would clearly lead a reader to the conclusion that it was related to events in 2002” — and included it in a subscription newsletter that was distributed through Bloomberg.

…the article in the Sun Sentinel’s archive had no date on it. But when Google’s spider grabbed it, it assigned a current date to the piece, which then resulted in the article being placed in the top results of Google News. When the employee from Income Securities Advisors ran a Google search on “2008 bankruptcies,” the old United Airlines story appeared as the top link in the results, with a September 6, 2008 date on it.

As Joel Johnson intimates in his Twitter post, it seems more like a movie plot point than reality. It just speaks to how much the market has gotten into a mindset where it thinks “he who panics first, wins.” Stick with your long-term investment goals and let them lose their nails.

Six-Year-Old News Story Causes United Airlines Stock to Plummet — UPDATE Google Placed Wrong Date on Story [WIRED]
PREVIOUSLY: United Airlines’ Stock Temporarily Wiped Out By Old Bankruptcy Story

(Photo: Deseronto Archives)