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. Trashing the can
You know that awkward moment when you try to stop something but instead wind up drawing more attention to it? Coca-Cola's doing exactly that with SodaStream's (Nasdaq: SODA ) cage exhibit.
The Coke king is issuing a cease and desist request to stop SodaStream from including Coke products in its environmental marketing campaign attacking the consumption of fizzy drinks in cans and bottles.
SodaStream has several of these cage campaigns, where it collects thousands of cans and bottles from dump sites and displays them in a cage to show the waste a typical family goes through over a few years. The point of the visual showcase is that SodaStream's home-based beverage system saves landfills from all of the unrecycled cans and bottles. By the Israeli company's count, its simple water carbonator has spared the world nearly 1.8 billion cans and bottles.
It's understandable why Coke wouldn't want to see its crushed cans and bottles displayed that way, but there's no way SodaStream isn't going to milk this new publicity. As smart as Coca-Cola usually is -- outside of the New Coke fiasco and those silver polar bear Coke cans that consumers confused with Diet Coke this past holiday season -- it's only drawing more attention to SodaStream's potent message.
2. Whoa -- Megan Landry alert
Microsoft may have earned some critical praise when it unveiled its Surface tablet on Monday, but there's a problem with the Windows Phone 8 update it announced on Wednesday.
Apparently the new operating system won't work with existing smartphones running the company's current mobile operating system.
That screeching sound you just heard was sales of Nokia (NYSE: NOK ) Lumia phones grinding to a halt!
Sure, iOS and Android updates aren't always backward-compatible to significantly earlier generations, but they usually don't leave the current generation hanging. Even if Microsoft goes through with a special Windows 7.8 update to give today's Windows 7.5 users many of the features being introduced into Window 8 in a few months, smart potential buyers will just wait for now. Nokia has had enough problems lately, and it's probably going to get worse in the near term.
3. Adobe disappoints
Adobe Systems (Nasdaq: ADBE ) closed lower on Wednesday after hosing down its top-line outlook following an uninspiring quarterly report.
Adobe may be blaming the revised guidance -- where it's only expecting to post revenue growth of 6% to 7% this fiscal year -- on weakness in Europe and a shift to its subscription-based Creative Cloud platform, but the market is right to be skeptical.
Adobe will continue to be the undisputed champ of desktop publishing solutions for professionals, but there are too many free and nearly free alternatives to Adobe's products when it comes to mainstream shutterbugs and Internet users.
4. You Nook me all night long
Barnes & Noble (NYSE: BKS ) is still holding out for a happy ending, but its quarterly reports aren't helping.
The leading bookseller posted a wider deficit than analysts were expecting in its fiscal fourth quarter, but what else is new? Barnes & Noble has come up short through most of the past two years as dwindling demand for physical books and losses stemming from its fledgling digital e-reader business eat into the company's bottom-line results.
However, the shocker here was the 10%-plus slide in the company's Nook business. A big drop in e-reader sales dinged the healthy gains in digital download sales for the period.
5. Talk isn't cheap
Shares of China Unicom (NYSE: CHU ) tumbled 5% on Wednesday after the Chinese wireless carrier posted disappointing metrics for the month of May.
China Unicom added 2.726 million net 3G subscribers last month, a surprising dip from the 2.918 million net additions it reported for April.
Is that really so bad? This is "net" additions, which means that there are still millions more new accounts signing up than going away on a monthly basis. Mr. Market's overreacting here -- but we know how temperamental he can be sometimes.
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