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The 5 Dumbest Things on Wall Street This Week: June 1

5. Vertex Shall Meet Twain

Forgive us Mark Twain, but when it comes to Vertex Pharmaceuticals (VRTX) recent meltdown, it's less about "lies, damn lies and statistics" than a case of stupidity, damn stupidity and statistics.

Shares of Vertex tumbled 11% Tuesday, after the high-flying biotech released corrected data involving its cystic fibrosis treatments that drastically reduced the number of patients who showed better lung function. Back on May 7, the company's stock shot up 55% after Vertex released a far rosier set of figures, which at the time inflated investor hopes that Vertex was indeed close to introducing an effective, not to mention profitable, therapy to fight the life-threatening genetic disorder.

Oh lord, that's just ridiculous. To paraphrase the great Twain once again: What a bunch of jackasses!

Or maybe it was Samuel Clemens who said that line, we aren't quite sure. We always get those two guys mixed up.

Seriously though, we are quite certain that Vertex is trying to shift the blame for the statistical screw-up that sent its stock on its own version of a wild Mississippi river ride. The company swears the error was the result of a vendor's misinterpretation of the data, not its own.

"This mistake is very disappointing," said CEO Jeffrey Leiden on a conference call with analysts. "It's unacceptable to us."

Give us a break Jeffrey. What's really unacceptable is that fact that you didn't double-check the denominator yourself before going public with the findings.

So the next time you have market-moving news to deliver, we suggest you follow Twain's timeless advice and "get your facts first and then you can distort them as much as you wish." Not the other way around.

Stock quotes in this article: VRTX, CHK, RIMM, PBY, JPM 

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