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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. Finished in Finland
Nokia (NYSE: NOK ) is no longer the top smartphone seller in Finland.
Samsung has overtaken the handset pioneer in Nokia's home country, according to researcher IDC.
Nokia hasn't had a lot of success as wireless customers go from old-school feature phones to high-tech smartphones, but it seemed as if its standing as the hometown hero in Finland would be secure. Well, Samsung has put that notion to rest.
2. Shudder bugs
Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL ) finally introduced something new, but it wasn't the iWatch, iTV, or even the updated iPhone that the market's been clamoring for.
The consumer tech titan rolled out a new iPod touch media player. The entry-level iOS-based media player is priced at $229 with just 16 gigs of storage capacity. However, a pretty major shortcoming is that it does not come with a rear-facing camera.
There is a front-facing FaceTime camera so Wi-Fi-backed users can enter into video chats, but what's the deal with discontinuing the camera that folks actually use for pictures?
This wouldn't seem so bad if Apple's latest ad didn't brag about how its products take more pictures than any other product.
3. Penney for your thoughts
J.C. Penney (NYSE: JCP ) can't seem to catch a break.
The struggling retailer had a reputational fire to put out this week as a billboard promoting an exclusive teakettle was called out for its likeness to Adolf Hitler.
After seeing sales plunge by $4.2 billion last year, one would think that any kind of publicity would be good publicity for the fading department store chain. Sure enough, the $40 kettle -- designed by Michael Graves -- sold out online after the story went viral.
No one will confuse J.C. Penney as a Nazi sympathizer here. The kettle, admittedly, looks more like Hitler from the blurry California billboard snapshot that went viral than from the actual product. However, at a time when J.C. Penney is trying to woo back shoppers the last thing it needs is to be seen as out of touch.
4. Cruising for a bruising
A fire broke out on Royal Caribbean's (NYSE: RCL ) Grandeur of the Seas, forcing the cruise line to cut that journey short and cancel the next sailing of the vessel that was supposed to leave out of Baltimore today.
No one was seriously hurt, and the fire on Monday morning was put out within a couple of hours, but the cancellation of at least two cruises is going to give more potential passengers time to reconsider their future travel plans.
Things didn't seem so bad when it was just the industry's largest and cheapest cruise line having all of the unfortunate sailings, but now that Royal Caribbean has been tripped up, the ramifications may sting all of the players.
5. The sun sets
Trina Solar (NYSE: TSL ) didn't seem so bright after posting disappointing quarterly results this week.
The Chinese maker of solar energy products tumbled 11% on Wednesday after posting a surprising decline in revenue and a much wider loss than Wall Street expected.
Investors should've seen the bottom-line miss coming. Trina Solar had posted larger deficits than analysts were targeting in each of the four previous periods. Why should this quarter be any different? Perhaps even more shocking, why did investors send Trina's stock 10% higher on Tuesday -- a day ahead of the report -- given its crummy track record on earnings day?
Solar energy is going to make investors rich one day, but Trina Solar shareholders may want to wait until the company either turns the corner of profitability or at the very least starts meeting or exceeding income projections.
Start making smart moves
With so much of the financial industry getting bad press these days, it may be a "greedy when others are fearful" moment. Not surprisingly, some of Warren Buffett's biggest investments are in the space. In the Motley Fool's free report, The Stocks Only the Smartest Investors Are Buying, you can learn about a small, under-the-radar bank that's too tiny for Buffett's billions. Too bad, because it has better operating metrics than his favorites. Just click here to keep reading.