This Week's 5 Best Moves and Blunders in Business

The Daily
The Daily

Companies can do brilliant things, but there are also times where they fall flat on their faces. Sometimes CEOs can save the day, but at other times, they say and do the darndest things.

There were plenty of winners and blunders this week. These were my favorites.

News Corp. (NWSA) -- Blunder
The Daily is dead.

When News Corp. introduced The Daily early last year, the move turned heads as a premium iPad-based news service. In a world where free content is readily available online, would folks pay up for exclusive content?

With an original operating budget of roughly $500,000 a week it was going to take roughly 750,000 paying subscribers to make it profitable. The most recent number was closer to 100,000.

There was plenty of quality content on The Daily, but they don't call the Internet the great leveler for nothing.

Netflix (NFLX) -- Winner
Shares of Netflix soared on Tuesday after the company announced a deal for exclusive U.S. streaming rights for Disney (DIS) releases in the first lucrative pay TV window. The deal doesn't kick in until the Disney, Pixar, and Marvel theatrical releases of 2016, but locking up exclusivity now will keep any potential competitors away.

Netflix is also immediately getting some of Disney's older titles to keep young families glued to their $7.99 a month digital subscriptions.

Netflix shares took a hit last year on the content deals that it lost, but it's been building its digital vault up quickly these days.

Yum! Brands (YUM) -- Blunder
Is the world ready for pizza-scented perfume?

Back in September, Yum! Brands' Pizza Hut subsidiary in Canada announced that it would celebrate hitting 100,000 fans on Facebook by rewarding 100 of them with a bottle of pizza-scented perfume.

Eau de pizza grease?

Not exactly. Pizza Hut actually had to toil away before drumming up something that was aromatic. Cheese and tomato sauce didn't make the cut, but a "fresh dough with a bit of spice" scent did work without flaring up nostrils. The first 100 people that requested it will be getting their scent soon.

Pizza Hut Canada is apparently more daring than its stateside parent. It recently introduced a hot dog-stuffed crust pizza -- a gesture is being promoted internationally this week.

The perfume promo isn't being received nearly as well. The reactions on Pizza Hut Canada's Facebook page are largely negative. Folks are generally revolted at the notion of pizza-scented perfume, and the free publicity may cost the company in the long run.

Sirius XM Radio (SIRI) -- Winner
The only game in town when it comes to satellite radio turned heads on Wednesday when it opened a $1.25 billion revolving credit facility.

Why would Sirius XM need money when it's doing so well these days? Well, on Thursday the media giant revealed that it will be buying back $2 billion worth of stock and paying a small $0.05 a share dividend later this month. The dividend is a non-event, but the buyback is pretty smart. There are a whopping 6.5 billion shares outstanding, and that's keeping the share price low.

With the possibility of an ownership shift leading to a spin off, Sirius XM's aggressive stance in buying back its stock is the right approach.

Coinstar (CSTR) -- Blunder
It seemed as if Coinstar's Redbox would finally be giving movie buffs the digital service that it's been promising for more than two years this month. Screenshots of Redbox Instant by Verizon -- the partnership between Coinstar and Verizon (VZ) -- indicated a Dec. 17 launch date, holding Coinstar to its goal of launching the service in the second half of 2012.

Nope. Verizon revealed this week that it won't roll out to the public until early next year.

Delays happens, but let's take Coinstar to task here. During the summer of 2010 it promised a digital strategy by the fall of that year. We're still waiting.

Motley Fool contributor Rick Munarriz owns shares of Netflix and Disney. The Motley Fool owns shares of Walt Disney and Netflix. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Walt Disney, Netflix, and Coinstar, and creating a bear put ladder position in Netflix.

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