NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Somebody out there probably still holds shares of Nortel Networks (NRTLQ: OTC). It's really nothing to be ashamed of. I logged into an account I had been ignoring to find 29 shares next to the following listing: BORDERS GROUP MICHIGAN INC NO STOCKHOLDERS' EQUITY 01/12/2012. Stuff happens.
That said, I can only hope the volume I see come in on NRTLQ each day does not represent a fresh long play or some pathetic attempt to average down. Even Nortel itself advises investors to stay away:
As previously announced, Nortel does not expect that the Company's common shareholders or the NNL preferred shareholders will receive any value from the creditor protection proceedings and expects that the proceedings will result in the cancellation of these equity interests.
It would not shock me to see that boilerplate come from Nokia (NOK - Get Report) or Research in Motion (RIMM) at some point over the next couple to a few years. At this juncture, both stocks represent highly speculative plays. Each company requires wholesale change or something else extraordinary to take place in the absence of such a turnaround if it expects to, once again, deliver results for shareholders.
Ingredients of a Turnaround
Domino's Pizza (DPZ) executed what will go down as one of the great turnarounds of our time. The company took to the extreme the first thing you need to do to chart a truly new course: A private and public acknowledgement that something is seriously wrong.Domino's realized it required more than a tweak here and a tweak there. If you recall, Domino's basically told the world we suck!. It positioned an entire ad campaign around that reality. Domino's promised to get better. And it did. It's not just that the quality of Domino's pizza has improved (it really has), but the company transformed itself into a social company. Domino's makes ordering online or via smartphone a smooth, pleasant and interactive process. Domino's took a massive risk, but pulled off its plan. In fact, it has probably worked out better than anybody at the company could have ever imagined. Shareholders reaped rewards as well; DPZ is up about 135% over the last two years. For one reason or another, RIM refuses to follow Domino's lead and tell the world the truth -- that it sucks. In fact, it's doing just the opposite. Late last year on Seeking Alpha, I wrote about a well-produced television commercial RIM ran, particularly during Canadian hockey telecasts. In it, a group of young hipsters use Blackberry smartphones to set up a late-night bike ride through the rain-slicked streets of a dark and misty downtown. There was just one little issue with the otherwise excellent effort:
Everybody knows that the loft-dwelling, urban hipsters you see heading out on a nighttime group ride would be texting on iPhones, not BlackBerries. In fact, it's almost surreal to see that set messaging on something made by RIM and not Apple.
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