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. Playing games
Still reeling from last month's hacker attack that compromised personal user data on its PlayStation Network, this week the consumer-electronics giant had to shut down its PC-based gaming network over similar attacks.
There were 24.6 million accounts on Sony Online Entertainment -- Sony's hub for EverQuest and other Web-based multiplayer games. Thousands of credit card numbers were apparently compromised.
How far does Sony think it will have to go to convince gamers that it's safe to play in its playground? Whatever it's thinking, it will probably have to try even harder.
2. Bad hand played
It's not just allegations of shady business practices overseas that's keeping Las Vegas Sands
The casino operator posted a profit of $0.37 a share in its latest quarter, falling well short of the $0.44 that analysts were targeting. Sands China is booming in Macau, but weakness at its original Vegas gambling resorts is forcing investors to reconsider the old adage that the house always wins.
3. And the cord-cutting continues
There's a lot of goodness in Comcast's
However, I keep finding myself harping over Comcast's video customers. This is, after all, the country's largest cable provider. Dabbling in content and using its pipes to deliver online connectivity and Web-enabled telephone service are smart moves, but isn't this a company that will ultimately live and die by its "Comcastic" couch potatoes?
Well, Comcast isn't doing so hot on that front. It shed another 39,000 cable television subscribers during the first three months of 2011. It now serves 714,000 fewer homes than it did a year ago.
The cord-cutting trend is real, and all of the Xfinity streaming initiatives and programming changes aren't stopping the bleeding.
4. Guiding light
If you ever want to hose down a blowout quarter, follow it up with ho-hum guidance.
Web-chat specialist LivePerson
Is that so bad? Well, yes. LivePerson posted an adjusted profit of $0.09 a share for the period, ahead of its earlier range of $0.06 to $0.08. However, by sticking to its 2011 adjusted earnings-per-share range of $0.33 to $0.36, it's telegraphing weakness during the final nine months of the year.
LivePerson has a lot of upside. Its platform is being used by some of the largest consumer-facing companies to deliver instant and cost-effective customer support online. Perhaps one day its guidance will reflect that trend.
5. Playing games again
Shares of Sohu.com
Really? I can see the knock on Youku. China's leading video-sharing site isn't profitable, and it faces stiff competition. The future is uncertain. However, Sohu and Baidu have been profitable for years, sporting chunky margins and heady growth rates.
We can't paint all Chinese dot-com darlings with the same broad strokes. For Sohu to tumble by more than Youku's 6% slide is ridiculous.
Which of these five moves do you think is the dumbest? Share your thoughts in the comments box below. In the meantime, you can add Sony or any other stock you like to My Watchlist, which will gather all of the Fool's coverage of that stock for you.
Baidu, LivePerson, and Sohu.com are Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendations. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.
Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz is a fan of dumb and smart business moves alike. Investors can learn plenty from both. He owns no shares in any of the stocks in this story and 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.