Stupidity is contagious. It gets us all from time to time. Even respectable companies can catch it. As I do every week, let's take a look at five dumb financial events this week that may make your head spin.
1. The HP way
Things are looking bad for PC makers and even worse for Hewlett-Packard
Sales tracker Gartner reports that PC shipments -- including desktops and laptops but not media tablets -- fell 5.9% in the fourth quarter relative to where things were a year ago.
HP led the laggards by shipping 26% fewer units than it did a year earlier. The global shipments are holding up a bit better, but no one at HP will be applauding the company's 16% decline in worldwide PC shipments.
Some will argue that Gartner is wrong to ignore tablets. Folks are buying iPads and Android gadgets, often in lieu of notebooks. However, it's not as if HP would be looking a whole lot better on that front despite the volume-padding desperation of last year's webOS tablet fire sale.
2. Game off
There's been a recurring theme at GameStop
The video game retailer lowers its outlook for comparable-store sales but keeps its earnings-per-share guidance intact after buying back enough shares to offset the impact by dividing profits into fewer outstanding shares.
Well, GameStop was at it again this week.
GameStop now sees store-level sales declining 1% to 2% for the fiscal year that concludes at the end of this month. Just eight months ago, the chain was targeting comps growth as high as 5.5%. Three revisions later, we're all starting to realize that selling video games and pre-owned gear in small-box stores isn't such a great model after all.
3. A thousand years in one piece of silver
There was no silver lining for Hecla Mining
The Mine Safety and Health Administration ordered the cleaning of the mine shaft, but the process of removing built-up material will apparently take longer than the market had expected. Hecla is naturally lowering its silver production estimates -- from 9.5 million ounces to 7 million ounces -- for this year.
4. Tiffany faces weaker sales
Bulls will argue that Tiffany remains deliciously profitable. The jeweler's new target calling for full-year fiscal earnings of $3.60 to $3.65 a share isn't that far removed from its earlier view that went as high as $3.80 a share.
However, it's all about momentum. Tiffany may have held up well internationally, but soft holiday sales closer to home are problematic. Tiffany's flagship store in New York actually saw sales decline for the quarter.
Ouch. If this is a market recovery and we're cutting back on upscale jewelry, it's going to be a rough few quarters for Tiffany.
5. Urban planning
Investors hate uncertainty, especially when longtime executives bolt to pursue other opportunities. Senk was a critical part of Urban Outfitters' growth over the years, especially with its Anthropologie chain. However, it's not as if the specialty apparel retailer is suddenly rudderless. Chairman Richard Hayne -- who co-founded the company 42 years ago -- will step in for now.
What? The guy who helped launch the chain in 1970 is going to have a good read on what today's youthful shoppers are buying? I don't know about that.
However, it's not as if investors should have been cheering Senk's most recent performance. Comparable store net sales were flat over the holidays and actually down 7% for the quarter during the company's fiscal third quarter.
You Senk my battleship!