There was no shortage of wonders of blunders even in this holiday-shortened market week. From a retailer’s gadget going cold to some jewelers just starting to heat up, here’s a rundown of the week’s smartest moves and biggest errors in the business world.
Men’s Wearhouse (MW) — Loser
Jos. A. Bank (JOSB) tried to acquire the larger Men’s Wearhouse a few weeks ago. It didn’t pan out, and now Men’s Wearhouse has made an offer to buy Jos. A. Bank.
This is technically a smart move, especially since the two companies should be able to realize some serious cost savings as a combined entity. However, this still is being scored as a blunder because Men’s Wearhouse originally balked at Jos. A. Bank’s buyout at least partially on the grounds that antitrust regulators would not allow it to take place. Now it has to eat its words.
Yahoo! (YHOO) — Winner
Yahoo! announced on Monday that Katie Couric will be joining the meandering dot-com giant as its global anchor next year. She will help develop the coverage at Yahoo News, giving the Web giant some welcome street cred in reporting circles.
Couric won’t be leaving TV. She plans to continue hosing her syndicated daytime take show — Katie — that runs through ABC News.
Yahoo! has struggled with online advertising growth lately, and Couric’s presence should help increase what it can milk out of advertisers.
The Nook — Loser
Barnes & Noble (BKS) posted disappointing quarterly results, but the real culprit here was a sharp drop in sales for the struggling bookseller’s Nook e-reader and tablet lines.
Shares of Barnes & Noble slipped after reporting a 32 percent plunge in Nook sales. The slide over the past year consists of a 41 percent decline in device and accessories and an even more problematic 21 percent drop in digital content. After all, it’s one thing if no one’s buying new Nooks, but it’s even more troublesome if the wider usage base is buying less digital content.
Jewelry — Winner
Shares of Tiffany (TIF) moved 9 percent higher on Tuesday after posting better than expected quarterly results. The upscale jeweler saw revenue and earnings climb 7 percent and 50 percent, respectively. Tiffany also raised its guidance for the entire fiscal year.
Nine hours later, rival Zale (ZLC) also came through with better than expected results. Zale posted a narrower loss than what Wall Street was projecting.
The economic recovery may be moving along gradually — and it was revealed that consumer confidence is at a seven-month-low — but folks are apparently not afraid to spend up on fancy bling.
Amazon.com (AMZN) — Loser
Amazon may be the company gaining the most from Barnes & Noble’s weakness with the Nook, but there’s unrest in its operations overseas.
Roughly a thousand of Amazon’s 9,000 employees in Germany orchestrated a strike Monday at two of its facilities. Union reps are trying to negotiate higher wages and better benefits for Amazon’s employees.
Then there was a scathing report airing on BBC’s Panorama that took working conditions at a British distribution center to task. An undercover employee working as a product picker at the warehouse calculates that he wound up walking 11 miles during a single 10-hour shift. He also found it mentally taxing to be wearing a GPS scanner that tracked his location and counted down the 110 items that he needed to collect in any given hour.
Let’s just say that Amazon’s reputation overseas is coming under fire this week.
Motley Fool contributor Rick Munarriz has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Amazon.com and Yahoo!. The Motley Fool owns shares of Amazon.com. Try any of our newsletter services free for 30 days.