Bloomberg's lazy Apple bias

May 11, 2013: 6:33 AM ET

You can almost hear the reporter -- or maybe the editor -- saying "Gotcha!"

389960992420FORTUNE -- Student activists at Harvard University like to pore over the quarterly filings of the Harvard Management Company for investments they find politically incorrect -- like Smith & Wesson (gun manufacturer) or Vale S.A. (Brazilian mining).

But when someone at Bloomberg News opened Harvard's latest SEC 13F what jumped out at them was the first line of the form: The sale of 100% of the university's holdings in Apple (AAPL).

They ran with this headline:

Harvard Liquidates Apple Stake After IPhone Sales Lose Steam

A good editor might have spotted couple of problems with that.

First, Harvard's stake in Apple before the sale amounted to a total of 571 shares, 0.03% of the university's $30.7 billion endowment, and according to Bloomberg the liquidation netted a total of $304,000.

The only other sale the story cited, 100% of Harvard's Warnaco Group holdings, yielded $42.3 million -- 140 times more than those Apple shares. There were even bigger liquidations in that 13F, but those were index funds with absolutely no editorial sex appeal.

The second problem with the headline is the bit about iPhone sales losing steam. See chart below.

Screen Shot 2013-05-11 at 6.02.23 AM

Source: Company reports.

I've asked the reporter and editor on the story for a comment. No reply yet.

UPDATE: Not having heard from either of the journalists responsible for the story (why do they bother attaching their e-mail addresses, one wonders?) I've reached out to the head of their PR department, an old pal from Time Magazine days. He's aware of my piece, he says, but he and his staff are busy dealing with a considerably more damaging journalistic transgression. See Privacy Breach on Bloomberg's Data Terminals.

See also: About that Bloomberg report of "falling iPad mini demand"

Posted in: , ,
  • Apple's iTunes U enrollment soars

    After a relatively slow start, downloads have tripled since Dec. 2009 to hit 300 million

    iTunes U, which began as a modest extension of Apple's (AAPL) iTunes Store in May 2007, has grown into one of the world's largest catalogs of educational course material  -- with most of that growth occurring in the past eight months.

    On Tuesday Apple announced that iTunes U downloads have now topped 300 million. That's up from MORE

    - Aug 24, 2010 11:05 AM ET
    Posted in: , ,
  • Does Harvard really hate Steve Jobs?

    An online journal puts a star professor under a most unusual microscope

    This is what passes for investigative journalism at The Daily Beast, the news and opinion website founded in 2008 by former Vanity Fair editor Tina Brown: a 1,900 word story attacking the credibility of one of the Internet's leading intellectuals written by a publishing heiress whose longest previous work was a year-long blog called "Confessions of a 5th Avenue MORE

    - Jul 6, 2010 7:00 AM ET
Current Issue
  • Give the gift of Fortune
  • Get the Fortune app
  • Subscribe
Powered by WordPress.com VIP.