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. Come back before moving forward
If it's January, it must be another Toyota Motors
Obviously this isn't as problematic as Toyota's earlier brake and accelerator mishaps. The defective parts should be a quick fix. The larger harm here is to Toyota's brand. Recalls are inconvenient to drivers, eating away at an automaker's prestige.
If massive recalls become annual events, the Japanese car maker will know why its dealer showrooms just aren't as busy as competing lots.
2. The Finnish line
At least Nokia
"The industry changed, and now it's time for Nokia to change faster," he conceded in discussing his company's ho-hum quarterly results.
Year-over-year sales were flat on a currency-adjusted basis for the Finnish handset maker. Unit shipments slipped slightly. A flat performance during the wireless boom isn't pretty, and the end result is that Nokia's once-enviable global market share of 34% last year has slipped to 32%.
Most companies would love to corner nearly a third of the handset market, but the trend is the problem. Nokia may have been the runaway leader in feature phones, but it's a laggard in the more promising shift to smartphones.
Elop gets it, but that doesn't mean that Nokia can actually change faster than the industry.
3. Losing revenue in India
Fledgling Indian portal Rediff.com
Rediff posted a widening deficit on a mere $5.9 million in revenue during its latest quarter. A rally that began last month has catapulted the shares to a market cap of $250 million, but how is that a fair price for a second-tier portal that isn't profitable as it rakes in roughly $2 million a month in revenue?
The good news for India in general, and Rediff in particular, is that initiatives are in place to improve Internet penetration rates and connectivity speeds in the world's second most populous nation. This is going to pay off in the long run for Rediff, but it's not going to transform the portal into an overnight sensation. Speculators are welcome to continue trading in and out of Rediff, but be careful about owning these volatile shares as we head into its uninspiring quarterly reports.
4. A picture's worth a thousand hurts
It hasn't been a very photogenic week for Eastman Kodak
Shares of the photofinishing pioneer slumped 13% on Tuesday after a judge sided against Kodak in a patent-infringement lawsuit against Research In Motion
Adding fiscal insult to legal injury, Kodak shares tumbled an additional 18% on Wednesday after posting disappointing financial results. Revenue and earnings from continuing operations in its latest quarter fell 25% and 88%, respectively.
That's some blurry snapshot that can't be Photoshopped to health.
5. Hack a Shack
Investors can't say that they weren't warned about the pending implosion at RadioShack
Shares of the small-box retailer were slammed this week after the company put out disappointing financial and announced that its CEO was bolting.
"Analysts see revenue climbing 4% and earnings shooting 17% higher this new fiscal year," I wrote two weeks ago when RadioShack was the subject of my "Throw This Stock Away" column. "I don't agree. The same market trends that have been tripping up Best Buy will soon knock down RadioShack."
RadioShack had just lost its deal to run wireless kiosks inside Sam's warehouse clubs. It was also an obvious loser in the upcoming Verizon iPhone release, since Verizon Wireless is the one major carrier that RadioShack isn't affiliated with through its stores.
Kudos to those who saw the light and got out before the CEO did.
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. 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.