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. Hewlett blew it
CEO Leo Apotheker, speaking at All Things Digital's D9 conference, reiterated HP's plans to ship 100 million devices annually with webOS. We're talking about the tech giant's line of computers, laptops, tablets, and even its high-end printers.
Why is this dumb? Well, with the exception of its TouchPad tablet, HP will simply be offering webOS on top of Windows. Won't this just become one more piece of pre-installed bloatware that inconvenienced users delete?
Remember when Palm's webOS turned heads as the multitasking smartphone operating system? That is so 2009. Now imagine it on top of a chunky Windows in a world where anything that isn't Android or iOS is quickly dismissed.
Instead of the marketing advantage bonus that HP thinks it will get from loading its wares with webOS, don't be surprised if it repels buyers instead.
2. Kung Fu Shanda
The stage was set perfectly for Shanda Interactive
Five for five?
Unfortunately, you can't let an external trend get in the way of history. Shanda's quarterly profit of $0.22 a share fell well short of the $0.26 a share that the pros were banking on, but what else is new? Shanda Interactive has now badly missed bottom-line estimates in each of the past six quarters.
Source: Yahoo! Finance.
Six for six. Sadly.
3. Kung Fu panned, duh
As long as it has three juggernaut properties, DreamWorks Animation can give its three most lucrative franchises a fresh installment every three years.
When Kung Fu Panda delighted moviegoers in 2008, the studio signed off on a follow-up. Well, Kung Fu Panda 2 clocked in with a disappointing $68 million in domestic ticket sales over the extended Memorial Day weekend. Even the typically resilient IMAX
Maybe investors should've heeded fellow Fool Anders Bylund's scathing critique after catching an advance screening a week earlier. The end result is that analysts at William Blair and Caris cut their earnings estimates after the sluggish start. 3-D multiplex outfitter RealD
My bigger concern is for that seemingly foolproof DreamWorks Animation release strategy. Will it have to dust off Shrek from retirement?
4. Fine line between fresh and stale
The Fresh Market
The premium grocer blew past Wall Street's profit targets, generating strong positive comps for the sixth consecutive quarter. Why are the worrywarts stocking up on cabbage and other fresh produce to hurl at the small-box supermarket that's popular with well-to-do foodies? Well, Fresh Market's crime is apparently that it's reiterating its guidance, sticking to its target of earnings per share clocking in between $1.01 and $1.05 for the entire year.
The problem with that is that the chain just earned $0.28 a share in its first quarter, well ahead of the $0.20 a share that Wall Street was expecting. By not raising its guidance accordingly, analysts will now have to adjust the earnings power of the next three quarters.
The Fresh Market trades at a healthy premium to the 15% long-term growth rate that it's publicly projecting. When you're being priced as a growth stock, reiterating guidance after a blowout quarter often comes at a dear price.
5. The Finnish line
The handset maker warned that results would come in "substantially below" its earlier guidance.
No one should be surprised. Nokia's a global leader in the traditional feature phones but a laggard in the sexier smartphones that everyone's clamoring for these days. This is the same company whose CEO confessed that his company's platform is burning.
Nokia's juicy yield will keep income investors close, but even they will flee if fundamentals crumble to the point where shareholders begin questioning future payouts.
Which of these five moves do you think is the dumbest? Share your thoughts in the comment box below.