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. Take a tablet and call me in the morning
Taiwan's DigiTimes -- a tech news provider with a deep Rolodex of Asian component makers -- is reporting that Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) is positioning itself with enough hardware partners to put out a self-branded tablet come 2012.

This doesn't make sense. Why would Microsoft enter a tablet market where smarter companies haven't even been able to bite the iPad's ankles? Won't slapping its brand on hardware also alienate its PC and laptop partners?

If it wasn't DigiTimes -- a publication that has scooped stateside outlets in the past -- this would be written off as a bored tech writer dreaming out loud poorly. It has to be taken seriously, even if it's a recipe for failure at nearly every level.

2. La Vita loca
Die-hard gamers converged at the annual E3 conference for a taste of things to come in the gaming world.

Obviously, there were a lot of cool games and gear being introduced, but one of the silly ones was Sony's (NYSE: SNE) PlayStation Vita. The next generation of Sony's PSP handheld platform has a lot working against it, and I highlighted five reasons why it wouldn't be a smashing success when it hits the market later this year.

In a nutshell:

  • The name is silly, though I'll concede that the Wii was a potty joke waiting to happen and the Xbox sounded like a porn gadget.
  • The price is too high, at $249 for the Wi-Fi version and $299 for the 3G model. Why are handhelds costing more than consoles these days?
  • Sony blew it with its 3G carrier, picking an unpopular telco and not going with the same one that has exclusivity on its Xperia Play gaming smartphone.
  • Recent hacking attacks on Sony make it a risky purchase.
  • Handhelds are a dying breed in this age of smartphones and tablets.

3. Blockbuster regress
Earlier this year it seemed as if Blockbuster couldn't give itself away in bankruptcy court. Now everybody seems to want its name.

DISH Network (Nasdaq: DISH) and NCR (NYSE: NCR) are in a legal battle for the Blockbuster Express moniker that NCR licensed through Blockbuster's previous owners for its fast-growing chain of DVD-spewing kiosks.


Unless NCR is contesting that it paid a one-time fee for perpetual trademark usage, what's the big deal? Rebranding the unmanned disc-renting machines makes sense even if there wasn't a legal tussle. Does NCR really want to bank on a brand that DISH has complete control in destroying now?

4. Burnt Ciena
(Nasdaq: CIEN) called in sick this week. The optical networking specialist reported a wider than expected quarterly deficit. Revenue, despite a meaty boost from a substantial acquisition, also fell short of Wall Street's target.

Adding insult to injury, Ciena's guidance for the current quarter is also short of where analysts were perched.

5. Solar eclipse
Solar energy investors know that volatility comes with the territory. They take it day by day, realizing that the sun doesn't always come out tomorrow.

This week's underachiever was LDK Solar (NYSE: LDK). The solar manufacturer did post a better than expected quarterly profit, but rained on its own parade by forecasting a weak current quarter.

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.