Stupidity is contagious. It gets us all from time to time. Even respectable companies can catch it. Let's look at five dumb financial events this week that may make your head spin.
1. It's a Mini-Me Wal-Mart
The world's leading retailer is playing small ball. Wal-Mart
Marketplace will stock only supermarket staples. Sure, Wal-Mart has the economies of scale to deliver low prices, even in a cutthroat margin business like grocery stores. However, Wal-Mart hasn't usually responded too well when it grows out of its comfort zone. It's been a dud on everything from high-end fashions to social networking to mail-order DVD rentals.
The only thing zanier would be if Wal-Mart transformed its adjacent garden centers into some crazy sports-themed eyesore. What's that? Wal-Mart is turning 1,700 of its outdoor garden centers into "Game Time Headquarters"? Selling home-team regalia and cookout dining staples? This concept will run only through September, so wake me up when Wal-Mart transforms its superstores into creepy haunted houses for October. Can you say "brand disintegration"?
2. Good to the last price drop
Top officers at Starbucks
In short, Starbucks is more crimson than Clover these days. Frozen bigwig salaries sound nice, but that's just a nice start.
3. Mumbai's the word
Shares of Sify
Google Apps is cool. Sify can also be cool, when it isn't losing money. However, there isn't exactly a velvet rope separating Google Apps and any interested company or person from Google's cloud computing. The press release isn't clear whether Sify will be getting gobs of rupees for every Google Apps user it generates, but that's pretty much the only reason why Sify should move up sharply on what's otherwise non-news news.
4. My TiVo really gets thee
Cool. Unfortunately, TiVo last year rolled out the "My TiVo Gets Me" marketing slogan, which pitched the DVR's ability to study the owner's viewing habits and suggest custom-tailored picks. Now it wants everyone to settle for what some highbrow Paris Hilton trackers think we'll like? We'll pass. Er, I mean, I'll pass. You can come to your own conclusion, because I want to live up to Fool.com's new "My Fool Gets Me" mantra.
5. Teaching old-school media some new-media blunders
It wasn't a banner week for media companies. Over the weekend, the Los Angeles Times' website published prewritten articles on all of the leading Democratic vice presidential candidates being tapped as running mates for Barack Obama.
Then it was Bloomberg's turn to bobble when it went online with its updated obituary for Apple's
Mistakes happen. I know that better than anyone else. Thankfully, the same tools that make immediate publishing possible on the Web make it just as easy to correct mistakes. Now where can I find a story about Jobs being tapped as VP?
Let's beat the Dumb Drum:
Wal-Mart Stores and Starbucks are Motley Fool Inside Value picks. Google is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendation. Starbucks and Apple are Motley Fool Stock Advisor picks. The Fool owns shares of Starbucks. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.
Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz is a fan of dumb and smart business moves. Investors can learn plenty from both. He owns no shares in any of the stocks in this story, save for TiVo. Rick is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.