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. There's an app for that
For the first time in several years, Apple (NAS: AAPL) failed to outsmart analysts. Missing Wall Street's targets for the first time since 2002 isn't really a deal breaker. Shifting the iPhone release from summer to fall is a legitimate reason for coming up short, though we can always fault the pros for failing to model appropriately.
However, the real reason that Apple makes the cut this week is because the country's most valuable tech darling shut down its stores for a couple of hours on Wednesday during its Steve Jobs' commemoration.
This may come off as cold -- or perhaps I'm hearing rumblings of "too soon" -- but I have to question the move. Jobs was Apple's magical marketer, and the company honors him by closing its stores and inconveniencing paying customers?
Reports also indicated that the store glass windows were covered with blinds and curtains during the closure. Giving employees some privacy to watch the broadcast may seem fair, but it has to come off as overly pretentious to folks who had wanted to hit up the Genius Bar with repair issues or trekked out to the mall during their lunch break to actually conduct business. I hope the Norah Jones and Coldplay performances were worth it!
Apple really does miss Jobs.
2. Vita course
Stateside gamers finally have a release date for Sony's (NYS: SNE) Vita. The handheld gaming device will be available on Feb. 22 in the United States and Europe, clearly missing the 2011 holiday shopping season.
Diehard Sony fans have already counted on a 2012 release, but Sony makes the cut this week because it is steadfastly clinging to a price point that is too high and a memory storage standard that is expensive and unpopular.
Sony is going to have a hard time smoking out buyers at $250, despite the slick touchscreen upgrade. The Vita is $80 more expensive than its rival 3DS after it slashed its price this summer when consumers failed to warm up to the $250 price point. The Vita is also more costly than most entry-level console systems. Even tablets are hitting the market at lower price points.
Sooner or later, Sony is going to cut the price, so it may as well do it before its release so it doesn't burn its early adopters.
3. Holding out for version 3.0
After several quarters of hype, we finally got the slate of new content and the first satellite receiver backing Sirius XM 2.0. Sirius XM Radio's (NAS: SIRI) new platform has room for as much as 25% more channels, and the satellite radio giant has teased about some evolutionary -- if not revolutionary -- features.
Unfortunately, the first retail receiver to hit the market -- the Sirius XM Edge -- is pretty unimpressive. It can tune in to nearly two dozen more stations, with half of them being Spanish-language music and talk content. However, the receiver itself doesn't really raise the specs bar.
That should change. Another receiver model - Sirius XM Lynx -- was leaked early on a retailer website. It may incorporate some of the teased features, including on-demand broadcasts, but we won't know until Sirius XM makes it official and available.
4. Subliminal salesmanship
Sometimes you can do such a good job of selling your company that you undersell your performance.
Interim CEO Tim Morse broke out the company's valuation during the company's conference call on Tuesday. The company's stakes in Yahoo! Japan and China's Alibaba combined for a value of $20.4 billion by the end of September. That's essentially Yahoo!'s market cap as of last night's close, and that's before subtracting Yahoo!'s nearly $3 billion in cash to arrive at an even lower enterprise value.
Morse's point is that Yahoo!'s own business is worth less than worthless to investors (as long as the Asian assets could be spun off without taxable implications). It's a great pitch to potential bidders, but it has to be morale-crunching to everyone working at Yahoo!.
5. Santa's bag is a little lighter
Traditional toy makers aren't holding up too well as we close in on the holiday shopping season. Hasbro (NYS: HAS) missed Wall Street's profit target for the third quarter in a row on Monday. Smaller playthings maker JAKKS Pacific (NAS: JAKK) also missed analyst forecasts a day later.
The news came on the heels of an analyst downgrade on Mattel (NYS: MAT) last Friday, after the leading toy company simply met expectations.
For those scoring for the naughty and nice lists, we're talking about three consecutive trading days with bad news from the publicly traded toysmiths.
I guess Santa's bag of toys will only be filled with iPhone 4S smartphones this year. Let's just hope that St. Nick wasn't shopping for the handsets during the tribute to Jobs.
If you want to track these companies to make sure that they don't make another dumb mistake soon, consider adding them to My Watchlist.
AddYahoo!to My Watchlist.
AddSonyto My Watchlist.
AddSIRIUS XM Radioto My Watchlist.
AddMattelto My Watchlist.
AddJAKKS Pacificto My Watchlist.
AddHasbroto My Watchlist.
AddAppleto My Watchlist.
At the time thisarticle was published The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple, and Yahoo!.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended buying shares of Yahoo!, Mattel, Apple, and Hasbro.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended creating a bull call spread position in Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter servicesfree for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe thatconsidering a diverse range of insightsmakes us better investors. The Motley Fool has adisclosure 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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