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. Snow falling on Cedar
It's a bittersweet buyout for regional amusement-park operator Cedar Fair
In other words, Cedar Fair cashed out too late.
You also have an industry that's clearly a proxy for the greater economy. If folks are out of work or short on discretionary income, the entrance turnstiles are going to click slowly. Cedar Fair didn't help its own case by slashing its once-hefty payout and buying the unwieldy Paramount Parks chain. However, if the economy does turn the corner next year, as many economists expect, Cedar Fair's roller-coaster havens should be magnets for thrill-seekers and young families with a little extra money to spend on escapism.
In other words, Cedar Fair also cashed out too early.
2. Extra! Extra! Plead all about it!
Even the paperboy is panhandling these days. McClatchy's
That may not sound so desperate, especially given the sorry state of print journalism, but put yourself in the position of a consumer of digital news. You're used to seeing donation buttons on non-profit Wikipedia or on the pages of hobbyist bloggers. Now you're being passed the offering basket as if the local paper is street entertainer, or PBS.
"If you value The Miami Herald's local news reporting and investigations, but prefer the convenience of the Internet, please consider a voluntary payment for the web news that matters to you," reads the pitch on the site.
This may seem like a novel approach to opening a new revenue stream or a shot at incremental revenue, but only a tiny fraction of online readers are moved by virtual collections, and the rest will take it as a sign that the publication is in dire straits.
3. Tiger's not out of the woods
That's not a dumb move. Woods has crashed hard -- literally and figuratively -- as a result of his scandals. The IT-consulting giant gets a nod in this week's column because it based an entire multimillion-dollar marketing campaign around Woods, without apparently having enough intel on his adulterous ways.
I keep thinking back to one of the original Accenture ads. Woods is crouched down on the golf course, cupping his eyes to get a better view of the fairway.
"To accomplish more, sometimes you need to see less," reads the ad.
See where that got you, Accenture? And you want people to turn to you for consulting work?
4. You're getting a dude, Dell
Sometimes you need to know who you're firing. A DailyTech.com article points out huge pricing mistakes on the Dell.com website, just as news breaks that the computer giant announced layoffs in Malaysia. Deals on the cheap ($10.99 processors) and not so cheap ($21,000 hard drives) started popping up at the same time of a payroll move that would upset roughly 700 employees.
However, Dell gets the Dumb Award this week because you don't issue blanket layoffs unless you know safeguards are in place to prevent your site from being sabotaged.
5. Bing! Fries are done.
Will we get to a point where Yahoo! bottoms out, or is this just a slow fade toward search irrelevance?
I won't back down from my original suggestion that outsourcing its search to Bing -- even if it results in a near-term windfall -- will be Yahoo!'s biggest mistake since it let Google power its searches.
Sooner or later, folks cut out the middleman.
Let's beat the Dumb Drum: