Stupidity is contagious, and even respectable companies can catch it. As I do every week, let's take a look at five head-spinningly dumb financial events from the past seven days.
1. It's easy to streak when you're naked
I don't have a problem with Dell introducing a product abroad first. Clearly, it feels it has a better shot with its smartphone in Asia, and England may be the best choice for its tablet. However, it's lousy timing to target the U.K. when the pound has been plummeting and Europe generally is in trouble.
As for the Streak itself, I applaud the decision to go with Android, but why is Dell giving these gadgets five-inch screens? That's a lot smaller than Apple's
Dell may believe there's less competition in this in-between category, but there's probably a reason for that.
2. It's a mousetrap
A problematic scandal struck Disney
Yes, folks do have to proof and edit these quarterly missives before they go out, and this enterprising yet allegedly corruptible couple figured that they could sell the report to hedge fund managers (who proceeded to turn them in).
Disney may not have been the wisest choice for this sort of scam in the first place. The family-entertainment behemoth rarely moves on earnings news.
As for the results of the report in question, Disney wound up with an adjusted profit of $0.48 a share, ahead of the market's expectations for $0.45 a share. All five of its operating segments managed top-line advances. Despite that healthy quarter, the stock still closed 1.8% lower on the day.
If you're going to sell stolen information, at least make sure it's marketable. The suspects should have run their idea past Gizmodo's iPhone acquisition team first.
3. The Toll collector
Investors liked the narrowing quarterly deficit at housing bellwether Toll Brothers
Not surprisingly, CEO Robert Toll waxed optimistic. "It appears our business has finally emerged from the tunnel and into a bit of daylight," he noted in Wednesday's quarterly report.
While that sounds encouraging, let's warm up the time machine to recall several other quotes from Toll's helmsman:
- "Fifteen months into the current slowdown, we may be seeing a floor," he said in December 2006.
- "We have seen a few glimmers of hope," he said in February 2008.
- "We do see signs for optimism," he said last summer.
Yes, I'm cherry-picking the quotes. To his credit, Toll was blunt about the industry in its darkest recessionary stretches. However, one can only call a bottom so many times.
4. Curb your streamed enthusiasm
The deal looks sweet on the surface. Sony is trying to stand out as the priciest of the three video game systems, and offering a broader range of streaming entertainment will help.
However, HBO won't be making the streams available until a particular season is available on DVD (roughly a year after the episodes originally air). The price may be right -- between $0.99 and $2.99 per episode -- but the lack of timeliness won't make this a fresh offering.
Sony also may be misfiring. Reruns of Curb Your Enthusiasm don't seem aimed at the young gamer audience.
5. Fast-forward through this earnings report
"TiVo kicked off the fiscal year on a strong note," CEO Tom Rogers begins in the DVR pioneer's earnings release.
Let's see. Hardware revenue spiked, but investors typically ignore that segment, since it yields negative gross margins. The bread-and-butter service and technology revenue took a sequential and year-over-year hit. TiVo also posted a wider quarterly deficit, its sixth consecutive -- and largest -- quarterly loss. In addition, the service is also losing subscribers, dwindling from 3.2 million to 2.5 million couch potatoes over the past year.
Something tells me that "strong" coffee in the TiVo break room amounts to little more than a cup of lukewarm water. I'm a fan of TiVo -- with two boxes to show for it -- but let's call a fade a fade.
Which of these five moves do you think is the dumbest? Share your thoughts in the comment box below.
Walt Disney is a Motley Fool Inside Value choice. Apple and Walt Disney are Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendations. 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.