5 Dumbest Things on Wall Street: March 5

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Sony's PlayStation Problems

Move over Toyota, there's a glitch at another giant Japanese manufacturer.

Sony (Stock Quote: SNE) admitted on Monday that a bug is knocking some PlayStation 3 users off the game console's online network. The company says the problem was likely caused by a Y2K-like problem in the system's clock. The problem was discovered Sunday night when PS3 users playing older models, not the newest slim version, began seeing the system's date reset to Jan. 1, 2000.

"We hope to resolve this problem within the next 24 hours," said Sony on its PlayStation blog. "In the meantime, if you have a model other than the new slim PS3, we advise that you do not use your PS3 system, as doing so may result in errors in some functionality, such as recording obtained trophies, and not being able to restore certain data."

But when you think about it, who can blame Sony for wanting to turn back the clock a decade?

In January 2000, Sony's stock price was close to $120 a share and the Walkman/Discman still ruled the world. Now shares of the humbled Japanese giant sell for around $35 a share and Apple dominates the consumer electronics market with its iPods, iPhones and other gadgets.

Our advice to Sony is to pray for divine intervention. PlayStation's blockbuster game "God of War III" comes out in just a few weeks, and Sony needs all the help it can get.

Dumb-o-meter score: 75 -- If this latest flub won't smite Sony, let's hope the God of War is not vengeful.

 

 

Dendreon's Latest Drama

Who needs a roller coaster ride when you can trade Dendreon (Stock Quote: DNDN)?

Dendreon shares fell about 10% to below $30 a share in premarket trading Tuesday, before recovering to finish higher after a bearish analyst report made the rounds, then was discredited.

Favus Institutional Research claimed the Food and Drug Administration was ready to convene an advisory panel meeting to review Dendreon's prostate cancer drug Provenge. The FDA is expected to issue an approval decision on Provenge on or before May 1. The deadline for FDA notifying Dendreon about the need for an advisory panel meeting has already passed, which is why the Favus report issued Tuesday morning spooked investors.

Did it matter than nobody on Wall Street had ever heard of Favus before? Or that the report was entirely unconfirmed? Of course not! Checking the facts before dumping the stock would take too much time -- and common sense.

Luckily, Dendreon moved quickly to counter this mysterious Favus fiction. The company, which is no stranger to the rumor mill, insisted that the FDA told the company an advisory panel for Provenge would not be scheduled. The rebuttal, which was backed up by the FDA itself, helped Dendreon shares recover, pushing the stock up to a new 52-week high above $35 before it settled 2.2% higher on the day.

We say Dendreon's next big drug should combat motion sickness. We don't think we could survive another trip like this without some big-time help.

Dumb-o-meter score: 80 -- They don't call it Den-Drama for nothing.

 

 

Pandit the Pundit

So it turns out that Vikram Pandit wants to be a Web pundit. We just hope for his own sake the Citigroup (Stock Quote: C) CEO doesn't get too blogged down in his latest hobby.

Pandit is blogging on a newly launched Web site, the AmericanBankingNews revealed this week. The blog, which can be found at new.citi.com, promises to "encourage discussions, ideas and debate." Pandit's article, "How Citi is Changing," led the site on Thursday evening.

"As Citi begins a new chapter in our nearly 200-year history, this new platform is needed now more than ever," writes Pandit, who took a break from typing on Thursday to testify in front of a Congressional panel about Citi's health.

Are you sure Vikram? After a quick perusal of some of the early posts, it seems like you may want to leave the Internet chatting to others and get back to banking.

A respondent named Michael, for example, commented that "Citigroup is a joke" and wondered if Citi employees are "getting paid to put up positive comments." Meanwhile, a shareholder going by the name of AJ wants the folks at Citi to know that he is "losing his shirt."

Well? What say you, Vikram? Are Citi employees getting paid to put up positive comments on the blog? And, more importantly, how do you intend to get AJ's shirt back?

If Citigroup and Pandit are serious about Web punditry, they better bank on receiving a lot of angry responses. We here at Five Dumbest Labs can say that from experience.

Dumb-o-meter score: 85 -- Speaking of angry commenters, what did we ever do to you guys? The federal government never bailed us out.

 

 

Fortune's Bad Mix

The folks at Fortune Brands (Stock Quote: FO) clearly need to stop sampling their product if they believe basketball coach John Calipari is worthy of a commemorative bourbon bottle.

The controversial University of Kentucky men's basketball coach will be featured on a collector series of Maker's Mark bottles, the company announced this Monday. Maker's Mark, a well-known whiskey from Fortune's stable of brands, is issuing the Calipari commemorative edition as part of the bourbon distiller's partnership with Lexington, Ky., race track operator Keeneland Association.

The limited-edition bottles, which will retail for about $49, will be available for purchase across Kentucky beginning Friday, April 2, the opening day of Keeneland's spring meet. Maker's Mark says it will donate the proceeds from the sales of the commemorative bottles to the University of Kentucky's Symphony Orchestra.

Sorry, but despite the charitable connection, the whole thing strikes a sour note with us. If they want to mix bourbon with something, let it be soda, vermouth or water. Not gambling, college athletics and a tainted college basketball coach who is as famous for forfeiting games as winning them.

Calipari's UMass team had its 4-1 record in the 1996 NCAA tournament and Final Four standing vacated after its star Marcus Camby was ruled ineligible for accepting gifts from agents. And Calipari's Memphis team had its entire 2007-08 season vacated by the NCAA due to academic fraud.

"I'm not sure the world is ready for my face on a bottle, but if it helps the university, I'm all for it," said Calipari in a news release.

Spare us. If it helps John Calipari, then he's all for it.

Dumb-o-meter score: 90 -- What an airball by Fortune Brands. No coach in college history is responsible for bigger hangovers than John Calipari.

 

 

Greece's Blame Game

Pity the Greeks. Not only are they running out of money, but scapegoats too.

The list of those responsible for Greece's "catastrophic" financial problems -- other than the Greeks themselves of course -- got longer (and dumber) this Wednesday, when Prime Minister George Papandreou blamed his country's budget situation on his political opponents.

"We discover new holes, new debts, new landmines in the Greek state's budget," said Papandreou about the previous New Democracy government, according to Bloomberg. Tensions between the two parties are making it more difficult for Papandreou to enact and, more importantly, enforce $6.5 billion in spending cuts.

Well, at least the Greek government has moved on from blaming Goldman Sachs (Stock Quote: GS) and its wicked hedge fund brethren on Wall Street for masking the size of its debt and deficit from EU authorities.

The Olympic gold medal for finger-pointing, however, goes not to Papandreou, but to his next in line. Deputy Prime Minister Theodoros Pangalos said last month, "You simply put some amounts of money in the next year ... it is what everybody did and Greece did it to a lesser extent than Italy, for example."

Pure genius! Don't blame us. Blame the Italians because they were better at hiding red ink than us.

And that's not even Pangalos' best attempt to sidestep blame for government spending gone wild. In a BBC interview, Pangalos called out the Nazi-era Germans saying, "They took away the Greek gold that was at the Bank of Greece, they took away the Greek money and they never gave it back."

We certainly hope Papandreou doesn't lead with that excuse the next time he goes begging to German chancellor Angela Merkel. We have an inkling that it won't fly very far.

Dumb-o-meter score: 95 -- To quote South Park, there is only one thing left for Greece to do: Blame Canada.

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