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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. A lump of coal in Netflix's streaming stocking
This may be the season for giving, but that wasn't exactly the case with Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX ) this week.
The leading video service suffered a pronounced streaming outage on Christmas Eve that ran straight through Christmas morning.
We could write this off as merely poor timing. Outages happen all of the time, and Netflix has historically responded with a reasonable account credit. Yes, the timing was lousy. At a time when families were gathering on Christmas Eve they had to do without many of Netflix's streaming faves, including National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, The Polar Express, and even a crackling simulated fireplace. This would've been a great time for a Netflix subscriber to show off the merits of the streaming smorgasbord, but instead it was Netflix looking like a big turkey.
However, the reason that this story takes the top spot this week is that Netflix is blaming Amazon.com's (NASDAQ: AMZN ) AWS -- or Amazon Web Services -- for the outage.
Really, Netflix? Isn't it time that you find a cloud-based IT infrastructure host that also isn't your enemy? Netflix may be serving up to 20 times the content that Amazon is during peak prime-time hours, but it still doesn't make sense to fortify and validate a competitor.
The saddest irony of all here is that Amazon's own streaming video service did not suffer an outage.
2. Putting the "fast" in Medifast
Some acting executives get stage fright.
Shares of Medifast (NYSE: MED ) plunged 13% on Wednesday after an SEC filing declaring that acting CFO Edward Powers was leaving the company.
Investors get uneasy when CFOs bolt, but Powers is leaving after less than six weeks on the job. It's not as if Medifast's financials scared him. Powers joined the company last year as senior controller.
However, when your CFOs are starting to come and go like Spinal Tap drummers, don't be surprised if Wall Street reaches for earplugs and moves away.
3. Scratching the Surface
There's at least one more analyst warning that Microsoft's (NASDAQ: MSFT ) decision to begin selling its Surface tablet through third-party retailers isn't exactly panning out.
R.W. Baird analyst William Power checked with reps at Best Buy (NYSE: BBY ) and Staples (NASDAQ: SPLS ) , the two largest chains that began carrying the Windows RT-powered tablets two weeks ago. Both chains are describing sales of the hyped Surface as "modest" at best.
They're not selling out, and holiday shoppers were snapping up iPads or Android tablets before considering the Surface.
4. Losing your Marvells
You've seen plenty of companies duke it out over intellectual property lately, but this week we had a university schooling a publicly traded company.
The lawsuit was initiated three years ago, as the university alleged that Marvell was infringing on a patent for the way technology is used in reading data from high-speed magnetic disks. Marvell was alleging that the patents were invalid, but obviously it would've been smarter to settle earlier.
5. Gel at the top of your lungs
Shares of Questcor Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: QCOR.DL ) tumbled on Thursday after Blue Cross Blue Shield Michigan became the latest company to hint at scaling back its coverage of Questcor's flagship Acthar Gel. The insurer came out against the treatment in all indications save for infantile spasm.
Questcor has responded to negative sentiment -- as health insurers and pharmacy benefit management companies scale back on coverage and bearish attacks -- through stock repurchases and initiating a dividend policy.
However, as more providers turn on reimbursing the costly gel treatment, Questcor will have to either prove itself or shave prices. It's not where Questcor would like to be these days.
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