Make us your home page
Instagram

United Airlines shares fall after old news looks like new online

In the Internet age, it doesn't take long for a single, erroneously posted story to cause a lot of damage. Just ask United Airlines.

After an old story about United's 2002 bankruptcy filing resurfaced on the Web as new news, it triggered a selloff Monday that chopped down the carrier's shares by 75 percent before trading was halted. United shares partially recovered after the error became public and trading resumed.

United blamed the drop on the appearance of a Dec. 10, 2002, Chicago Tribune story on the South Florida Sun Sentinel's Web site and launched an investigation. Both papers are owned by Tribune Co.

United said the date on the story appearing on the Sun Sentinel site had been changed. The story was removed from the site by midday. In a written statement, the airline also said it was seeking a retraction.

But the Sun Sentinel was quick to deflect blame.

Joseph Schwerdt, deputy managing editor-interactive for the Sun Sentinel, told the Chicago Tribune that internal tracking records show no one had opened the original story file since 2003. The story would have been available via a search on the site, but no one outside the paper should have had access to the story file, Schwerdt said.

The Tribune news story about the incident also pointed out that the Sun Sentinel story did not have any discernible impact on United shares until after 10:53 a.m., when it was posted to the Bloomberg News Service. The story was posted to Bloomberg by a Miami investment advisory firm, Income Securities Advisor.

According to reports, a researcher for Income Securities, which posts stories about distressed debt securities directly to Bloomberg, became aware of the story early Monday after searching for bankruptcy situations using the Google search engine. After the terms "bankruptcy" and "2008" were typed into Google, the Sun Sentinel story was the first story in a list of Google results, said Richard Lehmann, president of Income Securities.

United, which exited bankruptcy in February 2006, said it has been executing its business plan "to successfully navigate through an environment marked by volatile fuel prices and continues to have strong liquidity."

But some industry observers weren't surprised the resurrected bankruptcy story quickly sparked panic.

"A part of the reason why investors reacted so dramatically is because airlines are on such shaky financial footing," Jim Corridore, an equity analyst at Standard & Poor's, told Reuters.

United Airlines shares fall after old news looks like new online 09/08/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, September 9, 2008 10:00am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, wire reports.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Seminole Heights restaurants face struggles amid killings, post-Irma

    Food & Dining

    SEMINOLE HEIGHTS — The neighborhood's hip circle of popular, well-regarded restaurants is feeling the squeeze in the wake of a recent killing spree. And the timing is rough.

    Ella's American Folk Art Cafe. Times files
  2. St. Pete-Clearwater holding food, supply drive for hurricane refugees

    Airlines

    CLEARWATER — St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport and Allegiant Air are holding a food and supply drive for the Hispanic Outreach Center in Pinellas County. The event, which will benefit refugees displaced by Hurricane Maria, will be held Tuesday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the airport at 14700 Terminal Blvd.

    St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport and Allegiant Air are hosting a food and supplies drive Tuesday for refugees displaced by Hurricane Maria. | [Times file photo]
  3. Tallest building in Pinellas County in search of a new name

    Real Estate

    ST. PETERSBURG — The name "Priatek" is gone from Pinellas County's tallest building, perhaps to be replaced by that of a much better-known company new to the Tampa Bay area.

    The Priatek name is off of downtown St. Petersburg's tallest building.
 [LARA CERRI  |   Times.  2015]
  4. Estuary wins pier design contest for the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway extension

    Real Estate

    TAMPA — And the winner is… Estuary.

    Voters overwhelmingly supported a pier design called Estuary for the $200-million extension of the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway in Tampa.
[Courtesy of AECOM]
  5. Amazon receives 238 proposals from places eager to become its 2nd headquarters

    Business

    NEW YORK — Amazon said Monday that it received 238 proposals from cities and regions in the United States, Canada and Mexico hoping to be the home of the company's second headquarters.

    Earlier this month, an Amazon employee gives her dog a biscuit as the pair head into a company building, where dogs are welcome, in Seattle. Amazon says it received 238 proposals from cities and regions hoping to be the home of the company's second headquarters. 
[AP Photo/Elaine Thompson]