5. American Not-So-Superconductor
American Superconductor Corp.
, which makes electrical systems for wind farms, fell 5% this past Monday and another 5% on Tuesday. The stock is down nearly 40% since mid-April and more than 70% year-to-date.
Sorry guys, but that's not "super" at all. In fact, that sucks.
American Superconductor was hammered (again) after announcing it will be restating results lower for its second and third quarters of 2010. The company said revenue for the fiscal quarters ending in September and December 2010 will be reduced to $98 million and $43 million, respectively, from previously reported amounts of $101.5 million and $114.2 million.
Why is American Superconductor subject to such a massive restatement?
Well, it used to have a policy where it recognized a sale after its customers received shipments but before they paid their bills. Now, the company says that "revenues associated with unpaid shipments to certain Chinese customers" will not be recognized until paid.
Oh please. Don't tantalize us with talk about "certain Chinese customers." We all know the mystery customer is Sinovel Wind. And you know them better than anybody else since they accounted for almost three quarters of your sales last year before dumping you in favor of their own subsidiary, Dalian Guotong Electric.
Look, we all remember what happened in April when the stock took its last big dive. Sinovel refused to accept a shipment and ducked out on a $56 million tab that American Superconductor had already booked.
The company said Monday that it didn't do any business with Sinovel during the first quarter of 2011, so American Superconductor seems to be smartening up somewhat. However, they would be much better off if they stopped wasting everybody's time playing guessing games, and spent their energy replacing Sinovel's lost revenue.
4. Welcome to the Woodshed
Shares of decking products maker
got decked on Tuesday, while hardwood flooring retailer
stock got liquidated last Thursday.
Why did both companies get taken to the woodshed? Simple. Because their management acted like a bunch of blockheads by giving far-from-conservative guidance to Wall Street.
Trex shares tumbled after the company made a deep cut to its revenue outlook. It now sees revenue of $78 million for its fiscal second quarter ended in June, more than 30% below its previous forecast of $115 million.
The company, whose products typically cost more than using wood but require less maintenance, cited poor weather and weak economic conditions for the view, which was well below Wall Street's current consensus estimate for revenue of $113.9 million.
"Many parts of the country experienced major winter storms through April, which were then followed by heavier-than-normal precipitation during most of May, further delaying the start of the decking season," said Ronald Kaplan, the company's president, chairman and CEO in a press release.
Thanks for the
-cast Ron. But Wall Street analysts base their estimates on your
. They don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind
Investors should get ready for a huge downdraft of earnings revisions and target prices, because when you overpromise and underdeliver then Wall Street tends to blow you away.
Same goes for Lumber Liquidators which pre-announced lower earnings and revenues last Thursday, sending its shares down 29%. Lumber Liquidators now anticipates second-quarter earnings of 18 to 20 cents per share when it reports results on July 26. Analysts expected earnings of 31 cents prior to the warning.
CEO Jeffrey Griffiths said unexpected softening in consumer demand hurt second-quarter sales as "value-conscious consumers became more price sensitive and cautious in their discretionary spending."
Thankfully he wasn't silly enough to blame the weather or we would have made him walk the plank. But it still didn't stop investors from yelling "Timber!," taking a buzzsaw to his stock and reducing it to kindling. (Okay! We'll stop with the wooden analogies...Damn! Ok! Now we'll stop.)
3. Berlusconi's Bull
Sorry Silvio, but blaming speculators for the implosion of Italian banks is a whole lot of
Italy's two largest banks,
Intesa Sanpaolo SpA
, this week fell to lows not seen since the period following the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008. The lenders saw heavy selling over concerns that Italy would be the next victim of the European debt crisis.
To stem the pressure, Italy's market regulator Consob moved to curb short selling on Monday by forcing short sellers to reveal their positions when they reach .2% or more of a company's capital and then make new filings for each additional .1%.
Paolo Bonaiuti, an aide to Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, said the new regulations would unite Italy "in blocking the effort of speculators."
Bonaiuti, of course, was simply following Berlusconi's lead in blaming the entire crisis on the sliver of investors betting against Italy's faltering banks. Back in late June, Berlusconi lashed out at "the locusts of international speculation" for attacking Italian bank stocks, as well as the rating agencies for speaking ill of the country's debt, which, as luck would have it, is heavily owned by those sinking banks. UniCredit and Intesa held a total of $325 billion of government debt as of the end of April.
Come on folks. Let's be fair to locusts! If there are any slimy insects eroding the stability of the Italian -- and potentially European -- financial system, its Berlusconi and his
Clearly Rome is burning. Italy's public debt load amounts to about 120% of gross domestic product. Italy's economy grew a mere .1% in the first quarter. And more than 28% of Italian 15-to-24 year-olds are unemployed.
And even more clearly, the Italian government is fiddling. Instead of spending his time battling the problems afflicting his country's economy, Berlusconi is currently fighting legal charges over wild "bunga bunga" sex parties, as well as tax fraud allegations.
He's also locking horns with his own finance minister, Giulio Tremonti, who he trashed in an Italian newspaper, saying, "he's the only one who is not a team player."
As for Tremonti, he is involved in a scandal in his own right for living rent free in an apartment owned by parliament member Marco Milanese, who was arrested on accusations of accepting bribes. Speculation over Tremonti's future is not helping Italian bonds, now trading at their widest spreads to German bunds since the launch of the euro.
Perhaps the only member of Berlusconi's cronies that's hard at work trying to keep the country afloat is Mara Carfagna, the former topless model who Berlusconi tapped to be Italy's equal opportunities minister.
Carfagna obviously believes in transparency, at least when it comes to her clothing. And that's more than you can say for Berlusconi, who is trying to hide his own ineptitude by redirecting the spotlight on shortsellers, a group that evidently sees the prime minister for what he is: An Italian version of Lehman CEO Dick Fuld right before the investment bank went
2. Deutsche's Janet Jackson Junket
Unlimited golf. Fine. Champagne and spa treatments. Fine. Michelin-starred chef. Fine. Janet Jackson at $17,700 a minute. No freaking way.
, but we have to draw the line somewhere.
The German bank, which fired 300 British employees during the financial crisis and is currently exposed to $2.37 billion of questionable Greek debt, treated its hard-hitting hedge fund clients to 48 hours of food, fun and wardrobe malfunctions last week, renting out a five-star golf resort in Hertfordshire, England. Deutsche Bank spent close to $2 million on the shindig, which included a 45-minute set by Janet Jackson, according to Sunday's
Said George Mudie, Labour MP and deputy chairman of the Treasury Select Committee: "This displays incredible insensitivity. Because of the past actions of bankers, people are going through such hard times trying to keep their homes and families together."
Come on guys. Europe is coming apart at the seams and you spend $800,000 on Janet Jackson? We are quite sure Jermaine, Randy and Tito would have done the gig for a fraction of that amount. And La Toya probably would have done it for the all-you-can eat buffet.
Actually, and we're not kidding, word has it that Janet was not even the bank's first choice. The Mail says Deutsche offered even more money to the Black Eyed Peas to serenade their guests, but -- perhaps luckily for those in attendance -- the Peas declined, saying they would only lip-sync to their hits.
But seriously folks. When we hear stories about such untimely extravagance, it's hard for us not to hearken back to the days when U.S. bankers were routinely hammered by politicians for hosting blowout parties while simultaneously taking bailout funds.
Remember the uproar over
costly California retreat? What about the furor that led to
canceling its Las Vegas casino junket?
at Deutsche Bank failed to remember those embarrassing lessons. Or maybe chose to forget them.
1. Jobs Number Jive
President Harry Truman famously asked for a "one-handed economist" when his advisers gave him contrasting opinions. Frankly, after last week's June jobs data debacle, we would settle for a Wall Street economist with just one brain.
The U.S. economy only added 18,000 jobs in June after gaining 25,000 jobs in May, according to last Friday's Labor Department report. Wall Street's consensus estimate was 105,000, according to
. The private sector officially added 57,000 payrolls for the month, missing projected additions of 132,000. The unemployment rate was also disappointing, rising to 9.2%, even though economists pegged it to hold steady at 9.1%.
Um, excuse us for asking, but as they say in cyberspace...WTF?
We understand last Thursday's better than expected ADP employment report showed payrolls adding 157,000 positions, up from 36,000 the prior month. And we know the recent batch of economic data has been encouraging.
But to miss the headline number by a factor of five is just ridiculous. And we won't even talk about Wall Street's much higher "whisper" number because it makes us want to shout at the top of our lungs: HOW DO THESE WHIFFERS KEEP THEIR HIGH PAYING JOBS WHEN EVERYBODY ELSE IN AMERICA IS LOSING THEIRS?
Whew. Sorry, but we had to get that off our chest.
Anyway, here's the reality as we see it. About 20% of Wall Street's dismal scientists, aka economists, jacked up their forecasts by about 25,000 or more jobs after last Thursday's scorching ADP report, according to a note by
strategist Steve Englander. That means a whole lot of lemmings were worried about being left behind if Friday's number was a huge upside surprise, which it clearly wasn't.
Citigroup, by the way, predicted a headline number of 100,000. The golden boys at
clocked in at 125,000. Deutsche Bank was dead wrong at 175,000. Just to name a few of the brainiacs who blew it.
We could go on, but we would need at least an eight-handed economist to count them all.
Written by Gregg Greenberg in New York
Disclosure: TheStreet's editorial policy prohibits staff editors and reporters from holding positions in any individual stocks.