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. What are words for?
Twitter is a media darling these days, but that doesn't mean that Google is authorized to take it down a peg or two. It actually comes off as jealously childish. Remember when Microsoft's
Schmidt clarified the comments with CNBC on Wednesday. He also showed Twitter a little nod of approval.
"We admire Twitter," he said. "We think Twitter did a very good job of exposing a whole new way to communicate."
Cool, then hot? Sounds like love to me. I think Schmidt just telegraphed his company's next buyout.
2. You have the right to remain silent
I think Amazon is a wimp. It's the one that should be calling the shots. It is becoming such a revolutionary force that even Barnes & Noble
It was silly to give in to the ludicrous notion that this would eat into audiobook sales. This isn't a rich reading. It's a creepy phonetically-challenged computer voice! Besides, who would buy a book and an audiobook? And isn't someone going to go through more books with this feature enabled?
The dumb publishers will be the ones that pay the ultimate price here. Amazon is making it optional for individual publishers to turn off the "read-to-me" function on for their own titles. So now publishers who are selling usability-crippled e-books will have to compete with the unshackled ones. I love it. The free markets will smoke out the near-sighted publishers.
3. The new Mickey Mouse club
Somewhere out in Burbank right now, someone is dreaming up a way to print mouse-eared DVD mailers. Disney
Yes, it sounds a lot like Netflix
If anyone can make this work, it's Disney. It has a rabid fan base. It has hot properties at the moment. It has the resources to create exclusive content. Unfortunately, I have to lump this one in the "dumb" file, even if Disney could probably make this work in a kinder environment. If studio-agnostic services have failed to gain on Netflix, it's hard to fathom a standalone studio making it fly.
4. Make it a Blockbuster fright
Blockbuster's stock fell by a sharp 77% on Tuesday, before more than doubling on Wednesday.
Why the wild ride? Well, the big hit came when The Wall Street Journal reported that the company has hired a law firm to explore its financing options. Investors bailed on the movie-rental behemoth, fearing another retail bankruptcy. However, the stock bounced back the next day, when the company refuted the reorganization chatter and announced a healthy 4.4% gain in comps for the holiday quarter at its domestic stores.
The moral of the story for Blockbuster: Don't be so opaque. If you hire a law firm that has worked on bankruptcies in the past, go public with your intentions before the public makes assumptions.
5. Beauty is the eye of the beholder
Fortune published its annual list of the world's most admired companies. I guess it's a sign of the times when you have to settle. Not to be cynical, but let's go over the list without giving names:
- No. 1 is a company that posted lower earnings over the holidays, and its CEO has taken a hopefully temporary leave of absence.
- No. 2 just posted its biggest loss in its CEO's 44-year history at the firm.
- No. 3 is an automaker. Yes, it makes cars.
If you need more hints, feel free to check out the list. Admiration, like so many other things these days, is clearly relative.
Let's beat the dumb drum:
Disney and Microsoft are Motley Fool Inside Value selections. Google is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendation. Amazon.com, Disney, and Netflix are Motley Fool Stock Advisor selections. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, 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 does not own shares in any of the stocks in this story, save for Disney and Netflix. 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.