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. Tesla doesn't live up to the hype
Tesla Motors (NASDAQ:TSLA) CEO Elon Musk got the market worked up when a Twitter post promised a "really exciting" announcement where he was going to put his money where his mouth is.
Well, the actual announcement on Tuesday wasn't much of a earth-shaker. It turns out that Tesla's going to offer its Model S sedan in the form of a three-year "lease" program. It's not technically a lease. It's a loan where the lender shells out the down payment in exchange for the tax credit. Musk himself guarantees to buy back the cars after three years if the showroom doesn't, hence the promise of putting his money where his mouth is.
Really? This was the news that was so exciting that it was ultimately bumped to this week so it wouldn't get in the way of Tesla's March quarter?
Pundits have also taken Tesla's math to task. The pitch claims that lease customers will have an effective cost of $500 a month, but drivers will actually be paying quite a bit more than that. The cost takes into account savings on gasoline skimping, but it also includes tax breaks available in just six states and the ability to take a business deduction on the car.
The Washington Post points out that the actual monthly payment for a Model S lease will be closer to $1,200.
2. Manatees have feelings, too
Target (NYSE:TGT) got into some hot water this week when a discrepancy on its website was called out.
A Mossimo kimono maxi dress was available as "Dark Heather Gray" for the misses sizes, but the same hue is labeled "Manatee Gray" for plus sizes.
Target aimed to rectify the situation, pointing out that it has other items that are classified as "Manatee Gray." That's true. There are shirts, footwear, and home furnishings with that option. There's even a pair of skinny jeans with that color. However, it still looks bad when just the plus-size option for an identical dress was the only one labeled that way.
3. Time Warner goes old-school
Time Warner (NYSE:TWX.DL) has quietly introduced one of the more bizarre video streaming services this week.
Warner Archives Instant -- or WAI, as in WAI did Time Warner do this? -- charges $10 a month for online access to many of the old shows and movies in Time Warner's vault.
There's nothing wrong with rolling out a video service, but when your "most viewed" list includes a Yul Brynner movie and episodes from obscure shows dating back to the 1960s, you don't have a right to hit the market as the most expensive streaming service.
It also doesn't help that you're targeting nostalgic octogenarians but only making the shows available on PCs or for folks owning Roku streaming boxes.
4. "Five" rhymes with "dive"
Maybe the global corporate economy isn't bouncing back as expected.
F5 Networks (NASDAQ:FFIV) shocked investors after hosing down its near-term guidance. Shares of the networking gear specialist were halted yesterday as it revealed that it will fall well short of expectations.
F5 now sees itself earning no more than $1.07 a share in earnings on $350.2 million in revenue for the quarter that ended last week. Its earlier forecast was calling for a profit of $1.21 a share to $1.24 a share on $370 million to $380 million in revenue.
F5 blames the softness on domestic government orders and global telecommunications providers.
5. Use the forceps, Luke
The love affair between Lucas fans and Disney (NYSE:DIS) hit a bump this week.
Months after paying roughly $4 billion for George Lucas' media empire and breathing new life into the Star Wars movie series, the family entertainment giant is shutting down video game publisher and developer LucasArts.
Disney is moving away from an internal development model, seeking licensing deals to farm out future releases. The move may eliminate some of the risks of developing costly games that don't pan out, but this obviously doesn't fly with fans that were wowed by the Star Wars 1313 game that was in development but now gets scrapped in this move.
At a time when game developers are in demand, does Disney really want to show an entire arsenal of game makers the door?