This Week's 5 Dumbest Stock Moves

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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. Goldman sacked
All it takes is one public resignation letter to give Goldman Sachs (NYS: GS) employees a reason to dread the next time that they have to reach out to their clients.

I wasn't blown away by executive director Greg Smith's op-ed piece. It fell somewhere between the Peanut Butter Manifesto and Jerry Maguire. However, those two memos merely pointed out how their companies had lost their way. They were cries for focus. Smith's piece touches on the degradation of the culture at Goldman Sachs, but the real meaty tidbits are when he calls out how clients are dismissed and belittled by its investment bankers and brokers.

Smith points out that several of his now former colleagues call clients Muppets -- and I'm sure more than a few prized accounts will go Gonzo about it and bolt.

This vocal resignation isn't going to get Goldman Sachs back on track. All it will do is make it harder for any of the people still working at Goldman Sachs to get another job.

2. PacSun goes back some
Things aren't as bright as Pacific Sunwear of California's (NAS: PSUN) name suggests.

Shares of the once-trendy surf-and-turf apparel retailer took a hit this week after posting another wipeout of a quarterly report. The mall chain has now topped off 13 consecutive quarters of losses. Sure, comps during its fiscal fourth quarter were flat, but it's all relative. Check out how the past few holiday quarters at PacSun have played out.

  • Fiscal 2010: -7%
  • Fiscal 2009: -19%
  • Fiscal 2008: -10%
  • Fiscal 2007: -8%

In other words, the average store is selling less than two-thirds as much as it was ringing up five years ago.

Oh, and the closures will continue. After shuttering 119 stores last year, PacSun is eyeing another 110 stores that it will close this year. It will continue to wiggle its way out of mall leases until it's down to 550 to 600 stores.

From gnarly waves to waving goodbye, things aren't looking good for PacSun.

3. In the Knick of time
I was shocked to see shares of Madison Square Garden (NYS: MSG) nearing fresh highs even though the New York Knicks were winless through March and close to falling out of the eighth and final playoff spot in its conference.

Jeremy Lin's Linsanity was wearing thin. The team was sputtering since the return of its injured stars. As the owner of both the Knicks and the namesake venue where the team plays its home games, why was there the disparity between the stock and the sporting reality?

Well, Madison Square Garden shares did take a small hit after Knicks' coach Mike D'Antoni resigned.

Season ticketholders may be excited to see playoff ticket information going out this week, but the team is going to have to play some Linsane basketball if shareholders are banking on some playoff games at Madison Square Garden.

4. Something borrowed
Now let's ignore the mad scramble of folks at Apple Stores trying to secure the new iPad to shake our heads at a bizarre analyst suggestion.

Bernstein Research analyst Toni Sacconaghi turned heads by suggesting that Apple (NAS: AAPL) take on about $50 billion to $100 billion in debt so that it could shell out a substantial dividend. Since only a third of its nearly $100 billion in cash and marketable securities is accessible domestically, Sacconaghi argues that Apple can get a killer low interest rate on borrowed money that it can then redistribute to shareholders.

Maybe it's just me, but the reason Apple could get such a low interest rate is because it wouldn't do something that silly. Outside of investment bankers that would make a mint off issuing the debt and investors that don't understand how capital appreciation trumps dividends, this would be a silly move.

Apple obviously can already pay a reasonable dividend from its steady cash flow alone. The country's most valuable company chooses not to.

Next suggestion.

5. Secondary offerings with friends
Zynga (NAS: ZNGA) has filed for a $400 million secondary offering.

The stock naturally slipped on the news.

Zynga doesn't need the money. It's flush with $1.9 billion in cash after its recent IPO. This is just giving existing investors a way to get out in a somewhat orderly manner.

Some analysts are in favor of this move. Instead of opening up the floodgates to unleash insider selling when the lock-up period expires in late May, participants in this early exit will have to likely extend the lock-up periods for the shares that they do not sell.

I'll tell you why I'm not in that camp. You see how the stock ticked lower on the news. Just wait until the shares hit the market. A neat trick to keep IPOs buoyant early is to offer only a sliver of shares outstanding so demand exceeds the public float. This move will increase the float on a company that's valued pretty dearly to begin with. If the stock is already lower than it is now by the time the lock-up period comes, who wins?

I'm not a fan of the move.

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At the time this article was published The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple and Madison Square Garden. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Apple and Goldman Sachs, as well as creating a bull call spread position in Apple. 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.Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz calls them as he sees them. He does not own shares in any of the stocks in this story. Rick is also part of theRule Breakersnewsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.

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