5 Biggest Winners and Losers of the Week in Business


It's been a colorful week in the world of business, from a social network's accidental hijacking spree to the timely rescue of a fading PC giant, and pink slips being passed out at a colorful animation studio. Here's a rundown of this week's biggest wins and losses.

Facebook (FB) -- Loser
For a few minutes on Thursday night, a lot of people mistakenly thought that their computers had contracted a virus.

Visitors to many popular Internet websites found those pages redirecting within seconds to a Facebook error page.

What was going on? Well, if a web-surfer was also logged into Facebook -- and with more than a billion active users of the social networking website, that's always a large number of people -- and visited a page with a Facebook Connect button (to post on the page or share its contents), they were redirected.

Facebook was savvy enough to fix the problem right away, but if Facebook Connect gives the social media giant the power to hijack external sites when things get buggy, the mishap may lead some webmasters to reconsider incorporating the feature in their pages.

Dell's (DELL) Shareholders -- Winners

After weeks of speculation about a deal, the country's second largest PC maker is being taken private. There will naturally be some resistance to the $24 billion leveraged buyout. Shareholders will argue that they are being cashed out for far less than what Dell was worth in its prime. In the end, though, Dell is doing its public shareholders a favor.

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PC sales have been slipping for nearly two years, and that trend is not going to reverse anytime soon -- if it ever does. Casual users continue their migration to smartphones or tablets that do nearly everything that consumers routinely used their desktops and laptops to do.

There will continue to be healthy demand for servers, especially as the global economy picks up, but Dell has been a laggard in the smartphone and tablet markets. It's probably too late to catch up.

Pandora (P) -- Loser

Pandora has been one of the Internet's fastest growing companies, but the leading music streaming website is showing signs that it may have peaked.

Pandora posted its monthly metrics update this week. If you looked only at the press release, you would probably be impressed. Active listeners rose 38 percent over the past year to 65.6 million in January and listener hours soared 47 percent to 1.39 billion.

However, pull up the prior month's metrics and Pandora has more active listeners -- 67.1 million -- and served up the same 1.39 billion hours of audio in December. In other words, usage remained the same but there were fewer listeners.

It would be easy to dismiss this as a seasonal thing. Folks have more free time during the holidays to stream tunes. Right? Well, A year earlier Pandora had no problem growing its listener hours between December and January, and the number of active listeners didn't go down.

LinkedIn (LNKD) -- Winner

On a valuation basis you won't find too many stocks as expensive as LinkedIn. It trades for more than 100 times trailing earnings, and also just over 100 times this year's projected profitability. However, the one thing that the social networking website for career climbers has consistently done to earn its lofty market premium is consistently exceed expectations.

LinkedIn reported on Thursday that revenue skyrocketed 81 percent and adjusted earnings more than tripled. Analysts weren't even close with their guesstimates, but that isn't new. LinkedIn has hit it out of the ballpark in all seven quarters since its 2011 IPO. There are now more than 200 million registered users on LinkedIn.

DreamWorks Animation (DWA) -- Loser

Pink slips aren't bad. They're just drawn that way.

DreamWorks Animation will be letting go as many as 450 employees -- or 20 percent of its workforce -- according to the Los Angeles Times.

Computer animation seems to be as popular as ever, but there are apparently some hiccups at the country's second largest animation studio. Mr. Peabody & Sherman, the company's release slated for November is being bumped to March of next year. The theatrical feature that DreamWorks Animation was hoping to roll out next March -- Me and My Shadow -- is being returned to development for some fine tuning.

These things happen, but it's a slippery slope when a company begins announcing layoffs. Morale slips, and even those animators kept their jobs begin exploring opportunities at rival studios. Wouldn't green-lighting Shrek 5 have made more sense?

Motley Fool contributor Rick Aristotle Munarriz has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends DreamWorks Animation, Facebook, and LinkedIn. The Motley Fool owns shares of Facebook and LinkedIn. Try any of our Motley Fool newsletter services free for 30 days.

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