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. Knocking Nokia
This was supposed to be a good week for Nokia (NYSE: NOK ) , but it seems as if the weight of Nokia World is on its shoulders.
For starters, the stock tanked 16% on Wednesday after introducing its new line of Lumia phones. Whether it's the actual handsets or the uninspiring nature of Windows Phone 8, the consensus seems to be that Nokia isn't doing enough to become a relevant company again in the realm of smartphones.
However, the real reason Nokia makes the cut this week is its embarrassing marketing snafu.
An ad for its new Lumia 920 shows off the device's optical image stabilization features. A couple is bicycling, with the man using his phone to film the woman. The original footage is jerky, as one would expect. Then the ad features the PureView optical image stabilization in action with a smooth shot.
It would seem to be an effective commercial, but tech blog The Verge noticed that at one point during the smooth shot that a reflective window shows that it's actually a van with a cameraman filming that particular segment. Yikes! Nokia later issued a formal apology, confessing that the smooth shot was in fact not filmed with a Lumia 920.
Nokia is Finnish. It may as well be finished for some investors.
2. Audience participation
Shares of Audience (Nasdaq: ADNC ) are getting crushed on Friday after an ominous warning.
Audience issued a statement on Thursday afternoon, warning that the company's processor IP may not be enabled in the next iPhone. The new iPhone 5 will be introduced next week, so the late notice is a buzz killer for shareholders.
Since Audience recognizes royalty revenue from the license of its technology, this will begin stinging the company's financial reports later this year. The bigger problem is what it means to Audience's processor IP if the smartphone giant is moving on.
3. Epix fail
Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX ) apparently didn't renegotiate hard enough to retain its streaming exclusivity deal with EPIX.
EPIX films will now be available to Prime Instant Video customers.
The ability to watch the same recent Paramount, Lionsgate, and MGM releases on a cheaper platform has to irk Netflix. Sure, the company will argue that its streaming service does not need any single source of content or exclusive content. That's is largely true, but after losing Starz earlier this year and now having to share EPIX rights, the leading video service is running low on exclusivity of the newer features that mainstream consumers crave.
Netflix has to be more than just a hub for old seasons of TV shows, and EPIX exclusivity was a big selling point for fresh streams including Iron Man 2, Super 8, True Grit, and Rango.
Now movie buffs can get in on a cheaper buffet with free two-day shipping from the world's leading online retailer to boot.
4. The game's not over
GameStop (NYSE: GME ) seems to be a fading retailer by most accounts, but that didn't stop Goldman Sachs from upgrading the stock this week.
I'm not sure what the analyst is seeing there. GameStop has been slashing away at its comps guidance on a quarterly basis this year, and the shift to digital is even hurting the video game retailer's lucrative resale business.
There may be "dead-cat bounce" opportunities along the way, but expecting earnings to grow in the coming years seems disconnected from the chain's problematic situation.
5. Fran tanking a ton
Francesca's Holdings (Nasdaq: FRAN ) took a hit after CEO and co-founder John De Meritt announced plans to retire.
CEOs step down all of the time, but this has been an interesting year for executives at the apparel boutique chain. Its CFO was let go earlier this year after a Twitter post that seemed to tip off investors about a strong upcoming quarterly report.
The stock got slammed on the news -- a De Meritt demerit, one might say -- because it comes on the heels of a blowout quarter where comps soared a jaw-dropping 20.7%. De Meritt may be going out on top, but the fear here is that the good times may not be sustainable without the co-founder around.
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