It is often said that one critical statement to a child offsets 10 positive ones. The same effect can be found in the stock market, where an analyst’s downgrade is worth, in dollars and cents, sometimes ten times that of an upgrade. Take for example the price movement of shares of shoe company Skechers (SKX) which today fell almost 8%, over $70 million in market capitalization, after an analyst downgraded the stock.
For the most part, the law protects opinions from prosecution or law suits. But shouldn’t regulators be allowed to look behind reported opinions to determine whether action is warranted? Huge damages can result from inaccurate opinions. The best example is bond ratings by recognized services, with mega-billions recently lost on investments which had been deemed ultra-high grade. But losses can also result from negative opinions.
There is no proof, evidence or even insinuation that an analyst at Sterne Agee had any nefarious goal to cause holders of Skechers stock to lose $70 million today. Nor is there any information to link this downgrade to the short interest in Skechers’ stock, last reported at one-fourth of the stock’s float. Yet, those short the shares collectively profited by about $10 million today.