Ah, 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. Margin of error
If you think you've had a bad few days, it could be worse. You could be Robert Stiller. Green Mountain Coffee Roasters' (Nasdaq: GMCR ) founder saw his company shed nearly half of its value last week after a disappointing quarterly report.
The bad news was just beginning for Stiller. He got a margin call on Green Mountain shares that he had pledged as collateral, forcing him to sell more than a third of his stake in the company to cover the leveraged shortfall. The move violated Green Mountain's trading policies, so he was demoted from his chairmanship of the Green Mountain board.
Green Mountain's lead director was also tripped up with a margin call that ran afoul of the company's trading rules, and both men are being kept on the board but without pay until further notice.
Let this be a cautionary tale to any executive who feels that it's a smart idea to pledge company stock as collateral. Always make sure that you're covered under the worst-case scenario.
2. Han isn't the only one going solo
Electronic Arts (Nasdaq: EA ) better brush up on an old Yedi find trick.
Star Wars: The Old Republic is losing gamers, threatening to derail the video game giant's costliest game ever.
There's nothing necessarily "dumb" about a massive multiplayer online game fading in popularity. Gamers have become very fickle these days. However, EA makes the cut because of comments made by the company a few months ago.
"Star Wars: The Old Republic is developing a committed community of players with more than 1.7 million active subscribers and growing," CEO John Riccitiello said back in February.
Well, as of the end of March, the active subscriber count was down to 1.3 million, and likely shrinking.
3. Take too long
It's always bad news when a video game publisher has to delay a game. Why is Take-Two Interactive (Nasdaq: TTWO ) making it seem as if it's a cause for celebration?
"We've uncovered opportunities to make Infinite into something even more extraordinary," reads the Take-Two press release, explaining why BioShock Infinite is being bumped from October of this year to next February. "Therefore, to give our talented team the time they need to deliver the best Infinite possible, we've decided to move the game's release to February."
What a bunch of malarkey. Just be honest. You don't need to coddle the coders. Tell us that there are too many bugs in the game. Fess up to the fact that the game isn't "extraordinary" at all in its present state.
Investors were able to see through Take-Two's silly framing of the situation. The stock fell 6% on Tuesday's news.
4. Watch this
Fossil (Nasdaq: FOSL ) was one of this week's biggest implosions. Shares of the trendy watchmaker fell 38% after it hosed down its growth projections.
Weakness in Germany -- and to a lesser extent South Korea -- found Fossil growing its revenue by less than 10% when the market was hoping for a 14% top-line burst. The company is also lowering its near-term profit outlook, so it's not as if things will be getting any better anytime soon.
I can't be the only one who's been scratching my head on Fossil's meteoric rise before Tuesday's drop. Are watches -- even designer watches that double as a fashion statement -- really a growth industry? Hand a teen a watch, and they'll think you're nuts.
I know. Fossil sales are still growing. North American sales grew nicely, so I stink at consumer trend-spotting.
Still, deep down inside, Fossil shareholders have to be worried about timepieces seeming redundant in this smartphone age. Watches -- pardon the pun -- won't always be timeless.
5. Book to Ville ratio
Zynga (Nasdaq: ZNGA ) is suing a European game developer over its PyramidVille game that has gained a modest amount of traction on Facebook.
Zynga is the company behind FarmVille and CityVille, and while it may seem plainly obvious why Zynga wouldn't want another social building game to ape its "Ville" nature, there's little reason to believe that Zynga has an exclusive right to slap "Ville" at the end of a noun and call it a viral game.
It's ironic that Zynga would call someone out as a copycat, given how some of its most popular games are knockoffs of Scrabble, Boggle, Pictionary, and even earlier Facebook titles.
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