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. Baidu holds Spinal Tap drummer auditions
A week ago today, shares of Baidu
The departure is compounded by the resignation of Baidu's COO 10 days earlier.
What in blazes is going on at Baidu? This should be a time of drooling among its executives. Tensions between China and stateside search engines may very well result in Baidu commanding an even thicker slice of the world's most populous nation. Seize the opportunity, Baidu. Don't spook investors by scaring all of your executives away!
2. It's about Times
As has long been telegraphed, New York Times
"This will enable NYTimes.com to create a second revenue stream and preserve its robust advertising business," reads the release.
Oh, where do I begin to pick this one apart? OK, let's start with the statement that installing tollbooths will still allow it to preserve its "robust" advertising business. It won't. Folks will begin avoiding NYTimes.com articles, especially for stories being reported elsewhere. We're a bunch of freeloaders, so of course we're going to avoid bumping up against the ceiling of sneak peeks.
If advertising is so "robust," why turn to a traffic-stifling policy?
My other beef is the rollout date. This is pathetic, and emblematic of what is so wrong with newspapers today. It's announcing something that it won't be able to implement for at least another 12 months? Give it up, NYT. You're too slow for cyberspace.
3. Buffett buffet for the masses
I like the move. It means less cash coming out of Berkshire Hathaway. It broadens the potential ownership base. It makes the stock more index-friendly. It will move a few more boxes of See's Candy at the next, even more crowded, annual shareholder meeting.
The "dumb" move here comes from the folks complaining about the move. Buffett is no fan of splits, and neither are many of his disciples apparently. Even if Berkshire Hathaway has everything to gain, purists aren't happy.
Excuse me? Aren't we talking about B shares that were created on a 30-to-1 adjusted basis of the original A shares? This is like complaining about a vendor selling fried Twinkies at a Chicago Cubs night game. Tradition has already had its umbilical cord snipped. You're a generation too late to the pity party, Buffetteers.
4. How can you be out of stock on Gigli?
Shares of Blockbuster
Blockbuster is talking down its guidance for all of 2009, and the retailer is back in cost-cutting mode in 2010.
Maybe I'll stop by my local store and drop a "Get Well Soon" card in the movie return slot.
5. Stupid late-night host tricks
Let me teach you how you turn a peacock into a lemon. You take two late-night personalities that are struggling with ratings -- pit them against one another -- and then choose the one that local network affiliates are blaming for their pathetic lead-in audiences at 11 p.m.
I'm a fan of both Jay Leno and Conan O'Brien, but General Electric's
Which of these five moves do you think is the dumbest? Share your thoughts in the comments box below.
Baidu is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendation. The Fool owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway, which is a Motley Fool Inside Value pick and a Motley Fool Stock Advisor selection. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services, free for 30 days. That certainly wouldn't be a dumb move.
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. 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.