When Worlds Collide: As I write this, we’re coming towards the end of a breaking news producer’s dream. Or worst nightmare. Depending on your viewpoint.
It’s been a busy day. A VERY busy day. If I were prone to drink on weekdays, I’d be reaching for the nearest martini. (I’m actually going to the gym to work out, but that drink sure sounds good right about now!)
Altria Among The Missing: There’s nothing like being prepared, but it’s hard to be prepared for nothing. I was SO ready for Altria’s earnings to break, as scheduled, at 7 am on “Squawk Box”. We had the estimates ready, and deko templates ready to fill out as soon as they hit.
7 am comes. And goes. 7:01. 7:02. 7:03. No Altria. No news. Preparation for naught. Altria failed to put out any earnings report in any of the subsequent half hours, waylaying the plans of producers who’d planned to make it a key part of their leads. Keep in mind that with the exception of American Express, it’s rare to have a Dow component company report earnings during the trading day - they either report before or after the bell.
We remembered that in a recent previous quarter, Altria reported at 9 am, so we made preparations to do it at the top of “Squawk On The Street”. Did it happen? Of course not.
By this time I’m getting mildly irritated, so I pick up the phone and call Altria. They tell me earnings are on the way and they’ll be out in “mid-morning”. They won’t be any more specific, so I resign myself to waiting. And my wait is rewarded:
Pass The Cheese Whiz!: The news that finally broke at 10:06 am was not the earnings, but news the market had been awaiting, literally, for years: Altria would spin off the portion of Kraft Foods that they didn’t already own on March 30th. We drew up a quick set of dekos and had "Morning Call" Anchors Liz Claman and Michelle Caruso-Cabrera ad-lib a report. This clearly was the reason that Altria’s earnings were delayed, and in fact, they didn’t even come out with that release - they came a short time later, with Altria beating estimates in a report that took a back seat to the spinoff.
Delta’s Dawn: Also on today’s “no brainer” list: our partners at the Wall Street Journal told us that Delta’s creditors had decided to reject the takeover bid by US Airways. As I was writing dekos for that revelation, ANOTHER set of headlines hit the wires: US Airways was withdrawing its bid. Ah, but a breaking news producer’s life isn’t always so easy: we were on the air in live coverage of the President’s economic speech at the New York Federal Building, so I had to satisfy myself with dekos until the President was done, and we could rush our auto & airline reporter Phil LeBeau on the air.
And Finally, The Fed: The most significant breaking news story of the day, for the markets at least, was the easiest to do: the Fed’s interest rate decision came out at 2:15 pm along with the all-important statement. The Fed left rates unchanged, and did so on a unanimous vote. I drew up dekos on the fly while our panel of experts discussed the issue on "Street Signs", as the Dow soared to new all time highs. No flaming hoops and my day was done.