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TheStreet Open House

7 Awful Acquisitions of Giant Companies

Stocks in this article: NWSEBAYTNCRDAIAOLTWX

BOSTON ( MainStreet) -- We are all guilty of the occasional impulse buy -- from the infomercial that catches our eye, of the candy bar displayed in the checkout line, the late-night one-click on Amazon (AMZN).

Businesses may be less immediate or rash with their acquisitions, but they too can act too fast and face buyer's remorse. What seems like a great idea at the time can wind up being a disastrous case of "What were we thinking?"

Sony's (SNE) expensive ($4.8 billion) acquisition of Columbia Pictures in 1989 probably seemed to be good strategy as it beefed up its entertainment efforts. It didn't work out that way, though, and wound up being a $3.2 billion net loss for the company just five years later.

The big mistake was deciding that the various big-name producers attached to the studio would be automatic box office magic. In hindsight, one has to wonder whether those billions might have been better spent cultivating fresh talent. To reduce the deal to baseball terms, Sony ignored its farm system and blew its budget on aging veterans who had lost their curveball.

The purchase of Snapple in 1994, a 1.7 billion deal, quenched Quaker Oats' thirst for a solid brand-name complement to its Gatorade line. Rather than start a competing beverage, the brain trust at Quaker (now owned by Pepsi (PEP)) expected to benefit from the brand appeal of the company and fought a bidding war with Coca Cola (KO) to ensure it. The deal was a failure, and within three years Snapple was unloaded to Triarc Beverages for just $300 million.

Rubbing salt in the wound, Snapple flipped to Cadbury Schweppes for $1 billion and a few years later was spun off. Today the beverage is everything Quaker hoped it would be as the publicly traded Dr Pepper Snapple Group (DPS).

These two examples of deals gone bad aren't even the most extreme examples of corporate acquisitions. The following are five others that still leave Wall Street scratching its collective head:

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