Behind the Money

BEHIND THE MONEY: 'The Onion' as Trading Indicator

Much has been made of magazine covers/stories as contrary indicators to the stock market, with the most famous case being BusinessWeek's "The Death of Equities" headline in 1979, which preced the greatest equity bull market of this generation. One publication, however, seems to be dead on in its trading analysis: The Onion.

On April 23, 2007, the funny, fake news publication ran a story entitled "Even CEO Can't Figure Out How RadioShack Still in Business." The stock, trading at $28 at the time, would top out three months later and then go on to plunge to a low of almost $10 in March of this year. The satire was pointing out a problem not quite yet obvious to investors.

That RadioShack was caught in a no-man's land between the more popular big-box electronic retailers like Best Buy , the large home-improvement stores such as Home Depot and Lowe's, and small cell phone stores in malls from the national carriers. The article includes a fake quote from the actual CEO Julian Day stating, "You wouldn't think that people still buy enough strobe lights and extension cords to support an entire nationwide chain, but I guess they must, or I wouldn't have this desk to sit behind all day."

Since then, RadioShack is back. The stock has doubled from the March low, adding another 15 percent today on the announcement Friday that they would be selling the iPhone in stores ahead of Christmas. Credit Suisse upgraded the stock to 'outperform' today, Morgan Stanley made it a 'tactical' trading 'buy' and FBR reiterated it's 'outperform' rating. It seems analysts are impressed by the improvements the real Julian Day has made for the chain lately in addition to the iPhone announcement, including adding T-Mobile into its portfolio of cellular carriers and the roll-out off RadioShack kiosks in Target stores.

"RadioShack's addition of the iPhone underscores growing relevancy as a wireless destination," wrote Morgan Stanley analyst Gregory Melich, in a note to clients this morning. "We believe the share price will rise relative to the industry over the next 45 days."

The Onion may still get the last laugh however, Credit Suisse and FBR both put new targets on the stock at $25 and $26 respectively, just below The Onion "resistance" at $28. Just goes to show you, in the sometimes jaded and closed-off world of Wall Street, a fake news publication can often capture the real story best.

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