When it comes to investing, don't believe everything you hear.
The media love "top" lists, and we're no exception. This month, we get a little help from Louis Rukeyser'sBook of Lists (Henry Holt and Co. Inc.). The subject? Mary Farrell's List of the Top 10 Euphemisms When an Investment is Wrong. Farrell, a small-business investment expert, helps entrepreneurs read between the lines:
1. "The company's expenses were unexpectedly high."
Translation: I overestimated margins.
2. "Sales were less than expected."
Translation: I didn't notice all those competitors fighting for market share.
3. "Unseasonably cold weather hurt sales in the first quarter."
Translation: Of course it's always cold January through March, but I don't want to admit I was wrong.
4. "Earnings were disappointing."
Translation: Not for the company, which was right on plan, but I was hoping for a miracle to bail out this recommendation.
5. "We had a major earnings shortfall."
Translation: I don't have a clue what's going on.
6. "I'm fine-tuning my estimate."
Translation: What's a 50-percent cut among friends?
7. "Although our long-term recommendations remain intact, there are a few short-term problems."
Translation: Thank God in the long run, we'll all be dead and I won't have to answer for this fiasco.
8. "Management is unavailable for comment."
Translation: At least I've bought a little time to think up a creative explanation for this disaster.
9. "This correction is a good buying opportunity."
Translation: Stocks are in free fall.
10. "I'm downgrading to a neutral."
Translation: SELL, SELL, SELL.