The Walking Dead Will Kill Your Portfolio

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Here we go again.

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, or FINRA, just issued a warning to anyone speculating in old Blockbuster stock. It seems that investors needmultiplereminders that DISH Network (NAS: DISH) owns the Blockbuster trade name and all its assets, and that BB Liquidating shares have nothing to do with whatever business DISH conducts under the familiar name.

Same old story
Netflix
(NAS: NFLX) has killed the old Blockbuster and all its shares. Norwegian Blues may stun easily, but this one is pining for the fjords.

In FINRA's words, "Companies can be targets of online stock tips that can be confusing, inaccurate, misleading, and in some cases fraudulent. Furthermore, FINRA reminds investors that holding shares of any company involved in bankruptcy, or buying shares in a bankrupt company in the hope that those shares will surge in value down the road, are highly risky courses of action and can lead to financial loss." (Emphasis theirs, not mine.)

A different FINRA letter also points out how this situation is similar to the General Motors (NYS: GM) bankruptcy, where shareholders of the "old GM" have absolutely no financial interest in the new GM stock. Trading in GM's old, bankrupted stock only ceased 21 months after it was retickered to reduce investor confusion. I can only imagine the enormous financial carnage that was left in "old GM's" big wake. Don't let it happen to you.

FINRA's press release is ominously titled: "Companies in Bankruptcy Rarely Make Blockbuster Investments." It's time penny-stock speculators got the hint.

He's just resting!
And if you're protesting that the supposedly dead stock still makes big moves in the market and therefore is a good investment, let me remind you that the dead GM stock's last significant uptick happened some four months before the bitter end. Get suckered in too close to the final curtains, and you'll be left holding the worthless bag. It may already be too late, as the SEC put a trading stop on the stock a couple of weeks ago, because of excessive penny-stock pumping. "Some stock promoters may be trying to exploit that confusion," as FINRA so politely puts it.

If you're still interested in the Blockbuster brand, by all means funnel that portion of your portfolio into DISH. Maybe you just like those handy Blockbuster-branded DVD kiosks? CoinStar (NAS: CSTR) has a line of red boxes for you. Netflix, which already won the DVD wars and can never be counted out of the digital era entirely, is dirt cheap right now thanks to a series of management errors. Amazon.com (NAS: AMZN) may want to buy Netflix, or else simply make its own mark on the media industry of the future.

And the list of worthwhile media investments goes on -- Blockbuster's old zombie stock just isn't on it. There's no need to go looking for risk-packed penny stocks deep into bankruptcy, because there are plenty of easier ways to make money in the market.

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At the time this article was published Fool contributorAnders Bylundowns shares of Netflix but holds no other position in any of the companies discussed here.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended buying shares of Coinstar, Netflix, Amazon.com, and General Motors (the new one, of course).Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave also recommended creating a bear put spread position in Netflix. Try any of our Foolish newsletter servicesfree for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe thatconsidering a diverse range of insightsmakes us better investors. You can check outAnders' holdings and a concise bio, follow him onTwitterorGoogle+, or peruseour Foolish disclosure policy.

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