This Week's 5 Dumbest Stock Moves

These five companies got it wrong this week.

Apr 11, 2014 at 4:45PM

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. Dis a Pier
Sometimes it's hard to herd scapegoats. Pier 1 Imports (NYSE:PIR) had a pretty lousy holiday quarter. We can overlook the dip in sales and earnings, because it did have one less week this fiscal period. However, comps during the same 13-week run clocked in with a drop of 4.6%.

Pier 1 blames the lousy weather and a calendar shift for the crummy quarter, but then it decided to update its three-year growth plan. Instead of hitting $225 in sales per retail square foot in fiscal 2015, it now expects to reach that goal a year later. It also sees operating margins clocking in between 11% and 11.5% in fiscal 2016, down from its earlier goal of 12%. Revisions happen often, but Pier 1 is citing "the challenging fourth quarter" as the reason for the adjustment. Really? It snowed hard in December and January, and that will somehow factor into weaker sales and leaner markups in a couple of years? Please.

2. People in Glass houses shouldn't throw stones 
Wearable computing is going to be a big-growth industry in the coming years, and Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) has turned heads with its Google Glass specs. The search giant has limited ownership to beta testers whom it calls "Explorers," but now it will try to give other early adopters a chance to buy into the experience.

If you have $1,500 burning a hole in your pocket on Tax Day, Google will make a limited number of the high-tech glasses available for sale on April 15. There's certainly nothing dumb about tossing out a slightly wider net, but let's talk about that $1,500 price tag. Wearable computing devices that have been successful are relatively cheap. It also bears pointing out that Big G's success with Android has come largely because its open-source ways make it cheaper and therefore more accessible on smartphones, tablets, and other devices than gadgetry fueled by rival operating systems. 

Google will still sell some Google Glass devices. It will likely stage a sellout without divulging how many were actually sold. However, that $1,500 price tag seems as misplaced as the price on the Chromebook Pixel.   

3. The Game was thrown
HBO Go was a no-go during Sunday night's season premiere of Game of Thrones. The premium movie service's online platform suffered an outage during the show, burning subscribers who were streaming the fourth season's first episode.

Time Warner's (NYSE:TWX) HBO did resolve the issue a couple of hours later, but not before cyberspace blew up with venom worthy of a bloodthirsty Lannister. HBO isn't cheap compared to streaming movie services that cost half as much, so the reliability of its included online platform matters. Sure, even if that audience is just a bunch of college kids using pilfered HBO Go passwords to access the content, a disruption is still a disruption.

This wouldn't be so bad if HBO hadn't done the same thing a month earlier during the True Detective season finale. 

4. Bio shock
Biotech stocks have had a rough week, leading the market lower during Thursday's sell-off. One would think that a nascent biotechnology company wouldn't dare to go through with a secondary offering in the middle of the deluge, but that's exactly what Regado Biosciences (NASDAQ:RGDO) executed this morning. 

Despite seeing its stock plunge 18% on Thursday -- falling from $8.78 to $7.17 -- it still went ahead with offering 10 million shares that it had to settle for pricing at $6 a share on Friday morning. The biotech tackling applications in the acute and sub-acute cardiovascular therapeutic area was trading north of $14 just last month. Settling for less than half that high a few weeks later is desperate, but that's the way cash-slurping biotechs can be during the early years.

5. Dysfunctional Family
It hasn't been easy for discounters lately, and Family Dollar (NYSE:FDO) didn't hold up any better. The chain of more than 8,100 deep-discount stores missed Wall Street's profit target and a 3.8% slide in comps for the period suggests that low prices aren't enough anymore.

Family Dollar will be closing 370 of its stores, shedding many jobs in the process. It somehow believes that even lower prices will help, committing this week to reduce the price tag on 1,000 basic items it sells. I guess it missed the memo about low prices not being enough since most discounters are struggling. Playing limbo with a price gun may seem honorable, but all that it will do is slam margins.

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Rick Munarriz has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Google (C shares). Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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