Stupidity is contagious -- even respectable companies can catch it. As we do every week, let's take a look at five dumb financial events this week that may make your head spin.
1. Something borrowed is something blue
Shares of World Acceptance (NASDAQ: WRLD ) tumbled 20% on Thursday after the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau served it with a civil subpoena in an inquiry into its marketing practices and the legality of its consumer loans.
World Acceptance offers small loans to to those who lack conventional banking relationships through its network of 1,248 offices in 14 states and Mexico. The high interest rates charged and the potentially predatory nature of the loans have placed payday advance companies and other short-term lenders under regulatory scrutiny. World Acceptance is naturally innocent until proven guilty, but as TheStreet's Herb Greenberg points out, last year's buybacks were a bad idea, as they were made at higher price points than where the stock finds itself now.
2. Total recall
General Motors (NYSE: GM ) has an embarrassing recall on its hands. The giant automaker appears to have taken too long to issue a recall to remedy faulty ignition switches on some of its older cars.
Federal prosecutors are investigating last month's recall, which involved 1.6 million cars with a problem that could result in their ignition switches suddenly cutting off power to the vehicle. The issue here is whether or not GM is criminally responsible for taking so long to report an issue that it reportedly knew about since 2001.
3. You're going the wrong way
We are in an economic recovery by most accounts, so it's always a surprise when a tech giant still steps up and announces layoffs.
NetApp (NASDAQ: NTAP ) announced that it's eliminating 600 jobs. The data storage specialist is challenged by business' tight IT spending, and it expects to take a $35 million to $45 million hit on the move to "realign" its operations.
4. Seethe world
The ghost of Blackfish lives on. SeaWorld Entertainment (NYSE: SEAS ) reported a widening quarterly loss for its seasonally sleepy fourth quarter. Revenue inched higher, but that was merely the result of folks paying more to get into its parks and spending more when they get there. Actual attendance declined during the fourth quarter.
SeaWorld initially did a good job of ignoring and then attacking the claims raised in the documentary, but now even California is exploring putting an end to killer whale shows.
The theme park operator sees revenue in 2014 clocking in between flat and a 4% increase.That's not inspiring for a company that's been struggling to stop musical acts from calling off upcoming shows at an annual music festival.
5. A minor malfunction
Renewable energy has had plenty of winners lately, but KiOR (NASDAQOTH: KIORQ ) has been one of its biggest losers.
Things got worse for KiOR when it canceled its earnings conference call, originally slated for Thursday morning. The player in cellulosic gasoline and diesel transportation fuels also naturally called off its quarterly report, but it still expects to file its latest financials by Monday.
We'll see how that plays out.
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