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.Fed up with FedEx
On Monday, someone uploaded a video on YouTube showing a FedEx deliveryman hurling a PC monitor over a gated driveway. Nearly 5 million views later, FedEx has a problem.
The carrier acted quickly. It met the recipient in person, apologized, and paid for a replacement monitor.
Unfortunately, the timely correction on FedEx's part isn't being broadcast as widely as the original video. Making matters worse, given YouTube's "related video" feature, a series of other clips of surveillance cameras catching FedEx drivers tossing and punishing packages -- videos that perhaps didn't have a lot initial exposure -- are now coming to light after folks watch this week's mishap.
Being a parcel carrier isn't an easy job, especially this time of year, but FedEx is really going to be hurting when all that folks remember about this holiday season is what lazy and rushed drivers do to expedite the delivery process.
2. Cubicle castigation
Bad news for Herman Miller
The office furniture maker posted disappointing quarterly results this week. There's also the matter of its problematic guidance. Herman Miller sees revenue clocking in between $400 million and $420 million this quarter, well short of the $455.8 million that analysts were expecting. If that's not bad enough, it's not as if Herman Miller is forgoing quantity for the sake of chunkier profits. The company behind the Aeron task chairs and the inventor of the cubicle warned that gross margins will tick down sequentially.
This is obviously bad news for Herman Miller, and the stock did drop accordingly yesterday. However, as a proxy for the state of corporate spending -- this is office furniture, after all -- hosing down its outlook is pretty ominous for corporate America in general.
3. The iPhone isn't bigger than Jerry Lewis in France or David Hasselhoff in Germany
Continental Europe may have a sovereign debt crisis on its hands -- but not an iPhone. Apple's
Apple's smartphone market share in France for the 12 weeks through the end of November slipped to 20%, compared with a 29% slice a year earlier. Germany's clocking in at 22%, down from commanding 27% of smartphone sales a year earlier. Italy and Spain have also suffered similar declines.
This isn't the same as Gartner's report that showed Apple losing market share during the calendar year's third quarter, since now we're two months into the final calendar. The iPhone 4S is already being baked into these metrics. Is it a cost-conscious Europe, Siri's inability to chat up in foreign languages, or general Apple fatigue through continental Europe?
The same report shows strong gains in the United States, U.K., and Australia, but something's amiss in the heart of Europe.
4. The market zigs on ZAGG
Wall Street can be a tough crowd.
Shares of the ZAGG
The company behind the InvisibleSHIELD screen protectors and ZAGGfolio iPad keyboard stands now expects sales to hit $175 million this year, ahead of its earlier projection of $170 million. It's the third time that ZAGG has bumped its outlook higher since acquiring iFrogz in June. ZAGG's initial projection after the purchase called for 2011 revenue to come in as low as $160 million.
There may be some valid bearish knocks on ZAGG's staying power as an investment, but taking it down on a day when it proves otherwise is insane.
5. The Grinch wears blue and yellow
Best Buy is advising customers on some orders placed as far back as November that their shipments won't be received before Christmas Eve.
Lovely. A 20% pop in sales at BestBuy.com was the only saving grace in the consumer electronics retailer's otherwise gloomy fiscal third quarter. Now it's going to face a consumer confidence crisis when the 2012 holiday season comes around.
Ho, ho, oh no!
If you want to track these companies to make sure that they don't make another dumb mistake soon, consider adding them to My Watchlist.