Tweet This Ticker About Tweeter's Twitter Ticker

Jonathan Weil joined Bloomberg News as a columnist in 2007, and his columns on finance and accounting won Best in the Business awards from the Society of American Business Editors and Writers in 2009 and 2010.
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In case you missed it (or ICYMI, if you speak Twitter) there is a tiny, once-bankrupt company called Tweeter Home Entertainment Group Inc. that saw its shares rocket 684 percent today because traders confused it with Twitter Inc., which yesterday filed the registration statement for its initial public offering.

Tweeter trades over the counter under the ticker TWTRQ. It used to trade under the ticker TWTR, which is the same symbol that Twitter will use. Trading of Tweeter was halted at 12:42 p.m., according to the OTC Bulletin Board. The stock had risen as much as 2,200 percent to 15 cents.

I have a hunch about how some of the confusion began because I experienced it firsthand this morning. When I went to the Securities and Exchange Commission's website to look up Twitter's filing, I typed TWTR in the "Fast Search" box where it tells you to enter a company's ticker symbol. That directed me to a page that had links to all of Tweeter Home Entertainment's filings, the most recent of which was from May 2008.

After seeing that, I clicked back to the previous page and looked up Twitter's filings by typing the company's name into a different search box, which is how I eventually got the registration statement. A similar thing happened later today when I entered the ticker TWTR on the Nasdaq Stock Market's website: It directed me to a page with information about Tweeter.

It didn't dawn on me that the confusion might be a profit opportunity for speculators. Looking back, my guess is there are other people who visited the SEC or Nasdaq websites, saw the same thing I did and (unlike me) put in a buy order for Tweeter shares, hoping to flip them for a quick buck because they could foresee what would happen. It's a dangerous game. There are plenty of people who love to play it.

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