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. RIM shot
Research In Motion (Nasdaq: RIMM ) isn't content to die in slow motion when a quick death will do. The BlackBerry picker posted disastrous quarterly results last night.
Revenue fell sharply. Earnings didn't just miss Wall Street's targets for the fifth quarter in a row; RIM actually posted a deficit.
You also know that the future is only going to get bleaker because RIM isn't telling you what the future is going to be. The smartphone dummy is suspending its guidance, though it's not as if you can blame it after it overestimated its own performance three months ago.
We will live in a world where iPhone and Android are cornering the market, and next month's Windows Phone push will nibble at whatever life's still left in the BlackBerry franchise.
2. Best Bye
The good news is that -- once you back out bottom-line whacking charges -- Best Buy (NYSE: BBY ) managed to post stronger adjusted earnings than analysts were expecting.
The bad news? Well, that would be everything else in the consumer electronics superstore chain's problematic quarterly report.
Same-store sales took another "ho ho blow" during the holidays. Best Buy will also be closing 50 of its superstores, laying off hundreds of its employees at the corporate and support levels, and introduce an enhanced compensation plan with financial incentives that may turn its khaki-wrapped employees into attack dogs when customers step through those sliding doors.
There is some good in Best Buy's strategy. It will be enhancing its loyalty program through extended return policies and free expedited shipping. Best Buy is also interested in passing some of its cost savings to consumers in the form of more competitive pricing. It's also ramping up its chain of smaller mobile-centric stores.
The stock still fell 7% yesterday on the news. Investors have a right to be jaded. Best Buy has a lot to prove.
3. Take two tablets and call me in the morning
Google (Nasdaq: GOOG ) may be angling to cash in on the popularity of its Android operating system by rolling out its own tablets. The dot-com darling wouldn't be actually manufacturing the cheap gadgets -- supposedly at price points as low as $199 -- but sources tell The Wall Street Journal that the tablets would be co-branded with Google's name.
Doesn't Google remember how well its Google-branded smartphone went over? It didn't, by the way.
It's true that Android hasn't been as big a hit with tablets as it has been on smartphones, but Google doesn't need to be seen as a direct competitor to the companies hopping on the Android open-source platform.
Fellow Fool Tim Beyers also isn't keen on the idea, though his biggest concern is that Google's aiming at the 7-inch tablets that have been a resounding dud outside of the Kindle Fire.
Results for the potential treatment for tardive dyskinesia -- a neurological syndrome causing involuntary movements -- show no significant reduction in the syndrome. The reason that this makes this week's cut is that apparently one of the eight sites participating in the testing reportedly did not administer the drug correctly. It's a pretty big deal if true, because the cumulative results from the other seven sites did show a "significant" reduction. A new 12-week phase 2b study will take place later this year.
5. Dell hangs up
Dell (Nasdaq: DELL ) has been a dud in the smartphone space, and now it's killing off the last of its domestic handsets.
The PC giant will stop selling its Venue and Venue Pro phones in this country.
I knew that Dell was in over its head with the Streak two years ago.
"I'm not going to write off Dell completely here, because eventually it's going to be hungry enough to hit the market running with an accessible gadget at a ridiculously accessible price," I wrote at the time.
The Streak bombed, of course -- and so has everything else out of Dell in the smartphone and tablet space in this country. Dell will continue to sell phones in some overseas markets, but when it does return with a stateside product, let's hope that it's finally hungry enough to get it right.