JP Morgan accidentally calls Chinese internet companies “uninvestable”

JP Morgan accidentally calls Chinese internet companies “uninvestable”
The office of the locally incorporated JPMorgan Chase Bank in Beijing 11 October 2007. JPMorgan Chase Bank has received approval from the China Banking Regulatory Commission to establish a locally incorporated bank in China, the first time that the commission has granted a foreign bank approval to incorporate in Beijing. AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)

We know even with our 10 news sources and wires and countless rounds of editing, we still make the occasional boo-boo. What about you? Ever made a typo in a text? That’s not so bad. An email? Mmm … that’s a little worse. What about a document by JP Morgan Chase & Co labeling Chinese internet companies “uninvestable” when what you really meant was “unattractive”? Really, really bad.

And that’s precisely what happened. Even though company executives decided it would be better to cut it out altogether or use the word “unattractive,” a few reports never got updated before publication and went to print with the more negative descriptor.

The mistake led investors to pull about US$200 billion from the market and sent JP Morgan into apology mode. The company determined that it was an editorial error, and not necessarily an error in its analysis that led to the mistake.

Key comments:

“As risk management becomes the most important consideration among global investors in relation to their China investment strategy, as they price in China’s geopolitical risks, we view China Internet as uninvestable on a six-12-month view with a binary share price outlook,” read one of the published documents from JP Morgan.

“We stand by our published research and the analyst’s independent analysis of the sector,” a JPMorgan spokesperson said in an emailed response to questions. “A few subjective terms used interchangeably doesn’t change that.”