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.
You can rent Bad News Bears and Raging Bull through Netflix, but they're apparently easy to confuse these days.
A pair of analysts issued bullish notes on Netflix
What's so dumb about that? Well, the stock price was already more than $140 when the notes went out. Credit Suisse analyst John Blackledge actually upgraded the stock -- from "underperform" to "neutral" -- along with his new price target.
I realize that "neutral" isn't exactly a glowing endorsement, but since when does that mean that a stock is likely headed lower? Maybe it's just me, Blackledge, but I'd leave it as "underperform" until you're read to call for a positive return for investors. I'm guessing the embarrassment of a previously bearish call with that $90 price target may be clouding things here.
2. Headless is a state of mind
You know how a chicken without a head can keep moving for a while? I guess I'm calling Hewlett-Packard
It had no problem entering into a costly bidding war for 3PAR, shortly after booting CEO Mark Hurd. Now it's paying $1.5 billion for security technology specialist ArcSight
You know who used to be real good at HP in integrating purchases and realizing cost savings? Hurd -- the guy it tossed, paying him a meaty severance package, and then getting litigious after he popped up at Oracle
Speaking of Oracle, did you catch last night's better-than-expected quarterly report? Did you catch how Hurd was part of the conference call, even though he wasn't with the company during the quarter that was being discussed? My bet is that this is Oracle CEO Larry Ellison taunting HP.
The income statement is also taunting HP. A year ago, Oracle didn't even need to break down hardware sales, but that changed after Sun's purchase. It actually accounted for most of the growth at Oracle, since its bread-and-butter software revenue inched just 14% higher when overall revenue spiked 48% after the Sun buy.
What have you done, HP? What are you doing?
3. Chase ugly
Outages are part of cyberspace, but it's always hard when it happens to a financial services firm when money's involved. It's also incredibly stupid that JPMorgan's
"We are sorry for the difficulties that recently affected Chase.com, and we apologize for not communicating better with you during this issue," Chase finally owned up to on its website.
Access wasn't the only problem. Customers that had scheduled online bill payments for Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday didn't have them go through until Wednesday night.
Chase didn't just drop the ball. It kicked it around a bit, too.
4. Move over
Am I allowed to announce a product dead before it even hits the stores? Sony
Unfortunately, Sony is a couple of years too late. Gamers may have enjoyed getting off the couch for some Wii bowling in 2007, but even the Guitar Hero and Rock Band games peaked between 2008 and 2009.
Gamers are relaxing again, fumbling through a bag of Doritos when they're not pounding their controllers from the comfort of their beanbag chairs. Does Sony really think that pimply teen die-hard gamers are going to want to stand up for faux archery? Are they going to be open to mom entering their room with yoga pants to perform video game workouts?
You're welcome to buy the Move now -- or just wait until it's marked down on the clearance rack after the holidays.
5. Booking a trip or tripping a book
I didn't know that there were still analysts behind Barnes & Noble
He's downgrading the stock -- from a ho-hum "netural" to a run-for-the-hills "underperform" -- but even his pessimism appears uncharacteristically upbeat. He now sees the company posting a loss of $0.10 a share this fiscal year, breaking even next year, and earning $0.20 a share the following year.
Really? Digital books continue to grow in popularity, and B&N doesn't have the financial muscle to make its Nook a leader. Suggesting a profit in fiscal 2013 -- when the real wager is whether it will even be around -- is the dagger.
Which of these five moves do you think is the dumbest? Share your thoughts in the comment box below.
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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, except for 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.