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2013's Top 10 Dumbest Things on Wall Street

Stocks in this article: HLFLULUCCLTLMAAPLDELLTGT

6. Carnival's Crisis

Originally published Feb. 15

Go ahead, Carnival Corp. (CCL). Set your cruise ships adrift in the Gulf of Mexico. Stranding them at sea is absolutely the smartest move you can make.

We're not kidding. It may tick off your passengers, but your shareholders will absolutely love the ride.

Here's what happened: An engine-room fire caused the company's Triumph cruise ship, which was bound for port at Galveston, Texas, to lose power 150 miles off southern Mexico's Yucatan peninsula on Sunday. None of the 3,143 guests nor 1,086 crew members on board were injured, according to the cruise line operator. That said, inoperable toilets and a lack of air conditioning reportedly made the tug-boat-aided trip to Mobile, Ala., far less than luxurious. Shares of the company's stock fell just under 1% on the news.

The cruise line canceled the next two Triumph departures to fix the problem. It also offered full refunds and vouchers to the travelers whose vacations were ruined.

We here at the 5 Dumbest Lab, however, maintain they should do nothing of the sort. In fact, we think Carnival should screw up people's dream getaways more often. You see, based on last year's annus horribilus, Carnival's stock can do no wrong when the cruise company can do no right.

Think about it: Carnival's stock finished up over 17% in 2012 despite more mishaps at sea than McHale's Navy and Gilligan's Island combined.

Let's review.

Last January, the Costa Concordia capsized and sank off the Tuscan island of Giglio in Italy, killing 32 people. That tragedy was followed by Carnival's Crown Princess cutting a cruise short in early February after a norovirus outbreak. Later that month, 22 passengers from the Splendor were robbed at gunpoint while on a Carnival-sponsored shore excursion in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Not long after, the company's Costa Allegra had a fire break out in its generator room, causing the ship to lose power and drift aimlessly.

Finally, barely two weeks after the Allegra's electricity outage, the Caribbean Princess faced propulsion problems in mid-March and had to return to San Juan four days early. The following Princess cruises were canceled so repairs could be made to the ship.

Imagine that. Three solid months of seaborne stupidity and Carnival's shares still beat the S&P last year.

Hey, if that's what it takes, then damn the torpedoes, it's full dumbness ahead!

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