5 Dumbest Things on Wall Street: March 12

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Lindsay's Ludicrous Lawsuit

Let it go, Lindsay. For your own sake, just let it go.

The New York Post revealed Tuesday that actress turned tabloid target Lindsay Lohan is suing E*Trade Financial (Stock Quote: ETFC) for $100 million in pain and suffering damages caused by the brokerage company's Super Bowl commercial. Lohan is alleging the so-called "milkaholic" boyfriend-stealing baby named Lindsay featured in the ad is a reference to her tabloid-chronicled substance abuse.

Lohan's lawyer Stephanie Ovadia is positing that the 23-year-old actress is recognizable by only her first name, much like Oprah and Madonna, the Post reported. She says that E*Trade has "garnered great profits" from the millions who watched the commercial.

Great profits? Really? That would be welcome news for shareholders as the company reported a loss of $525 million for fiscal 2009 on Jan. 27, and Wall Street doesn't expect it to get back in the black until the fourth quarter of this year.

"They used the name Lindsay," Ovadia told the Post. "They're using her name as a parody of her life. Why didn't they use the name Susan? This is a subliminal message. Everybody's talking about it and saying it's Lindsay Lohan."

We object, counselor. Your client's life is already a parody and, contrary to your silly lawsuit, it's one of her own making.

Dumb-o-meter score: 75 -- We don't want to be mean to the Mean Girls star, but she should grow up.

 

 

Dollar General's Color War

Color us dubious, Dollar General (Stock Quote: DG).

The discount retailer filed a federal lawsuit against competitor Fred's Tuesday, claiming its smaller rival is "unlawfully and deceptively" using its trademark yellow and black color in a new advertising campaign. The lawsuit contends that Fred's is moving away from its traditional blue-green color combination in order to capture Dollar General's brand awareness.

Dollar General is seeking an unspecified amount of damages, including all profits made by Fred's campaign using the yellow and black colors it calls "most sacred" to its image as a low-priced retailer. The suit also claims Fred's is engaging in unfair competition and is in violation of Tennessee's Consumer Protection Act. Both companies are headquartered in Tennessee.

In other news, Belgium is suing Germany for unlawfully using black, yellow and red colors in its national flag. In response, the Germans are countersuing their European neighbor for defamation, claiming the Belgians are the true tricolor copycats and that the "yellow" in their flag is really "more of a gold" anyway.

Dumb-o-meter score: 80 -- Sadly, we can't salute Dollar General for its silly lawsuit."

 

 

Burger King's Whopper

Sorry your highness, but we aren't buying your snow job.

The brass at Burger King (Stock Quote: BKC) bogusly blamed blizzards in the northeast for taking a big bite out of its second quarter sales. The fast food chain said Tuesday that comparable-store sales in its U.S. and Canada segment fell 8.2% in the two months ended Feb. 28, compared with a 3.1% increase in the same period last year.

Burger King said sales in the U.S. and Canada were "severely impacted" during January and February by adverse weather conditions in the central and eastern portions of the U.S. According to the King's own count, inclement weather impacted comparable sales by about 3 percentage points during the two month period.

Come on, guys. We'll grant you it was snowy out this winter, but that's one Whopper of an excuse for an exceptionally dismal performance. Your buddies down the block at McDonald's (Stock Quote: MCD) faced those same snowstorms, but they don't seem to be having a Big Mac panic attack.

McDonald's reported Monday that U.S. sales in February rose 0.6%, and sales jumped 5.4% in Europe and 10.5% in the Asia/Pacific, Middle East and Africa region. In January, McDonald's U.S. same store sales fell 0.7%, while foreign sales rose 4.3%. Burger King, on the other hand, said worldwide comparable sales for the two months fell 5.4%.

Face it, Burger King, snowy or sunny, the Hamburglar is stealing your market share.

Dumb-o-meter score: 85 -- Regretfully, the folks at Burger King can't have it their way when it comes to silly weather excuses.

 

 

GM's Jet Set CEO

Speaking on behalf of all the taxpayers with a stake in General Motors, aka Government Motors, we here at Five Dumbest Labs thank the kind shareholders at AT&T (Stock Quote: T) for their contribution to our company's profitability and, more importantly, our CEO's comfort.

The Detroit News reported this week that GM Chairman and CEO Edward Whitacre Jr. still flies private, despite the fact that the automaker no longer owns a fleet of corporate jets. Thanks to a perk from his former employer AT&T, Whitacre flies free on the telecom giant's corporate fleet for up to 10 hours a month -- for the rest of his life. GM unloaded its seven private planes as a condition for receiving over $50 billion in federal aid.

According to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the perk costs AT&T, where Whitacre was chairman and CEO, about $20,000 a month. Whitacre, who now makes $9 million a year running GM, negotiated the sweet deal from AT&T in 2007 as part of a $158 million retirement package.

Whitacre said he does not use AT&T planes for GM business. An AT&T spokeswoman would not say how often or for what purpose Whitacre uses the company's aircraft.

We say, thank you, AT&T for your generosity. But if we owned your stock, boy would we be ticked at you for wasting our money.

Dumb-o-meter score: 90 -- AT&T is also paying Whitacre up to $26,000 a year, for life, for -- get this -- an automobile! Sometimes you can't make this stuff up.

 

 

Cisco's Big 'So What?'

John Chambers should consider wearing a black turtleneck sweater at his next press conference, because the Cisco (Stock Quote: CSCO) CEO sure has a lot to learn from Apple chief Steve Jobs when it comes to hyping a new product.

In a highly anticipated webcast on Tuesday, Cisco launched its new CRS-3 router , which the company claims will pave the way to much faster Internet speeds. Cisco built up the announcement, saying it would "forever change the Internet." Nevertheless, despite all the hullaballoo, the tech giant's stock ended the day 20 cents lower.

"It's all about the next generation of productivity," said Cisco CEO John Chambers, adding that the CRS-3 offers more than 12 times the capacity of its competitors. "It's the foundation for the next generation Internet."

No, it's not John. Unless you make it sing and dance like an iPhone, your thrilling new router is just a big box of semiconductor chips, wires, lights, doodads and thingamajigs -- and that's exactly how it was received. Worst of all, you sound like a bad GE commercial when you say things like, "Video brings the Internet to life and lets us all participate in a very constructive way."

Chambers was also questioned about Google's (Stock Quote: GOOG) recent move into broadband, and downplayed any budding competition between the two tech bellwethers.

"Google is a wonderful company, they are pushing productivity and more creative ideas," he replied. "Our strategy is more one of 'how do we bring this to life'?"

Not like that, John. Definitely not like that.

Dumb-o-meter score: 95 -- If we had a 'Boring-o-meter' or a 'Disappointment-o-meter' Cisco would have earned a perfect score.

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