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. Cold electric cars heat up
Tesla Motors (NASDAQ:TSLA) kicked off the week responding to a scathing critique by The New York Times on Sunday that called into question the electric car's battery life in cold weather. Given Tesla's goal of selling a ton of its Model S sedans to affluent Northeasterners, it's easy to see why coming under fire for performance in wintry weather could be a problem.
Elon Musk appeared on CNBC on Monday, but he may have made things worse.
He pointed out that company logs of the author's test-drive vehicle -- which in and of itself is a bit creepy -- shows that the reviewer didn't wait until his car had a complete charge. Musk also pointed out that the writer drove a few miles over the speed limit and took an unnecessary detour through Manhattan.
Musk may be right -- and a detailed report by Tesla later in the week makes it seem that way -- but that doesn't make Tesla look so good.
"With all due respect, Mr. Musk, who doesn't drive a Tesla faster than the speed limit?" CNBC's Bill Griffeth asked during the segment.
Tesla had to defend itself on this, but drawing more attention to the incident in a way that forces Tesla drivers to be patient through recharging stations, lighter on the accelerator, and focused on the most direct path from one destination to another doesn't sound like potent marketing material for a car that costs at least $60,000.
2. This is no Love Boat
Another cruise on Carnival (NYSE:CCL) has gone wrong.
An engine fire on the Carnival Triumph idled the ship on Sunday, stranding the ship that had left Galveston on a four-day trek through the Gulf of Mexico.
Passengers have reported a lack of food, power, and plumbing.
By Thursday afternoon, just as it seemed as if the boat was about to be pulled ashore along the Alabama coastline, the towline broke. The nightmare finally ended last night.
Yes, Carnival's smoothing over irate passengers with free cruise credits, but this is ultimately more damaging to Carnival because of the people who aren't on the ship. They're the ones seeing another Carnival-owned ship spoil a getaway, giving way to natural doubts about taking a cruise in the future.
3. Another iPhone security bug
Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) gave investors another reason to expect margins to continue contracting this week by lowering the price of two of its Macbooks, but the reason that the world's most valuable technology made the cut this week rests in its iOS 6.1 bug.
Once again, Apple has released an iPhone operating system upgrade where a simple hack can bypass someone's passcode protection. Yes, Apple went through this in its 4.1 update, leaving one to wonder if Apple is fully testing its upgrades.
Yes, Apple will be quick to roll out a fix, but Apple's in a vulnerable spot here. Android phones continue to explode in popularity, especially overseas where they are substantially cheaper than the iPhone. Apple can't afford to be human. There are too many competitors ready to pounce on every slip.
4. Orange aprons aren't for picking berries
BlackBerry (NYSE:BB) picked a lousy time to lose a major client.
Home Depot is trading in the 10,000 BlackBerry devices that it provides to executives, managers, and corporate staffers for shiny new iPhones.
Yes, BlackBerry's been losing market share for a couple of years now. However, this diss comes just as BlackBerry is rolling out its new BlackBerry 10 mobile operating system that's generating some pretty healthy buzz.
Whether Home Depot was waiting on the details of BlackBerry 10 and was left unimpressed or this was something that had been in the works for some time, it still isn't the kind of news that the smartphone pioneer wants out as it kicks off its turnaround strategy.
5. Log rolling
Shareholders of LogMeIn (NASDAQ:LOGM) are shouting "LetMeOut" after issuing disappointing guidance after Thursday's market close.
The remote-access services provider is calling for a sequential dip in revenue for the current quarter. Wall Street was banking on improvement. LogMeIn's profit forecast is also a little more than half as much as analysts figured that it would earn.
LogMeIn's outlook for all of 2013 is equally disappointing. It's not a surprise to see investors logging off today.