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This Week's 5 Dumbest Stock Moves

By Rick Munarriz - Dec 7, 2012 at 10:46AM

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There's never a shortage of stupid things happening on Wall Street.

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. The stock exchange for the last hundred years
(NDAQ 0.17%) can't seem to catch a break.

Remember back in May when the exchange fumbled Facebook's IPO? Well, it botched this week's debut of WhiteHorse Finance (WHF -0.14%).

The exchange blames a "human error" for the delay that stalled the business development company's debut for hours. Despite going public at $15, the stock closed at $13.90 on its abridged first trading day. We may never know how much of the dip was the result of the enthusiasm-sapping delay, but once again, the exchange doesn't look good.

Making matters worse, it's not as if the slate was crowded with companies rushing to go public.

2. Cracking open Pandora's box
(P) hit a bad note with Wall Street in its latest quarterly report.

Pandora's quarter itself was fine, but the guidance was brutal. The music discovery pioneer is only looking for $120 million to $123 million in revenue for the holiday quarter, essentially flat sequentially to the $120 million it just delivered. Analysts were banking on a small profit, but Pandora's now targeting a sizable deficit.

Sure, Pandora is drawing 59.2 million monthly active users, but the vast majority of them are freeloaders. Online ads are barely covering the music royalties that it has to shell out. If Pandora can't get more of its customers to pay up, this tune isn't going to get out of the minor key.

3. Gamers gone mild
Will the last of the video game bulls please unplug the console on the way out?

Die-hard gamers were supposed to save the industry last month. Halo 4 and Call of Duty: Black Ops II were supposed to boost software sales, and the Wii U debut was supposed to salvage the hardware end of things.

It was "game over" on both fronts.

Software and hardware sales fell 11% and 13%, respectively, according to industry tracker NPD Group. It's true that NPD only tracks sales through traditional retailers, but the news is still disappointing. Video games continue on this problematic downward spiral.

4. Redbox can't start thinking outside of the box
The public rollout of Redbox Instant by Verizon will have to wait until next year.

Coinstar's(OUTR) Redbox and Verizon (VZ 0.31%) announced their plans to team up to launch a digital streaming service earlier this year. The companies were targeting availability during the second half of this year, and it certainly seemed that way just last week. Screenshots of the beta pointed to a Dec. 17 launch.

Well, Verizon Wireless confirmed this week that Redbox Instant by Verizon won't become publicly available until early next year.

Time is ticking, but investors should know better. Coinstar has been promising that a digital strategy for Redbox is coming soon for more than two years.

It's understandable if Redbox and Verizon want to make sure that the service is just right, but the market's moving so fast these days that missing a self-imposed deadline could be catastrophic.

5. Black and white and red all over
The week began with The Daily announcing that it was ceasing publication, and ended with a report on Thursday night that Washington Post (GHC 0.26%) was considering a metered paywall.

Do you see the problem? After nearly two years of money-slurping operations, The Daily came to the conclusion that folks won't pay for an iPad publication. At the same time, Washington Post is following other newspapers into charging active readers.

Not every paywall has been a dud, but clearly readers have enough free alternatives.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Aristotle Munarriz has no positions in the stocks mentioned above. The Motley Fool owns shares of Facebook and has the following options: long JAN 2014 $20.00 calls on Facebook. Motley Fool newsletter services recommend Facebook. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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Stocks Mentioned

Verizon Communications Inc. Stock Quote
Verizon Communications Inc.
$44.68 (0.31%) $0.14
Pandora Media, Inc. Stock Quote
Pandora Media, Inc.
Coinstar, LLC Stock Quote
Coinstar, LLC
Nasdaq, Inc. Stock Quote
Nasdaq, Inc.
$183.17 (0.17%) $0.32
Graham Holdings Company Stock Quote
Graham Holdings Company
$584.10 (0.26%) $1.51
WhiteHorse Finance, Inc. Stock Quote
WhiteHorse Finance, Inc.
$14.19 (-0.14%) $0.02

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

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