Companies can make brilliant moves, but often, things don’t work out quite as planned. From a beverage company refashioning refrigerators to a CEO with some regrettable comments going viral seven years after they were originally said, here’s a rundown of this week’s smartest moves and biggest blunders in the business world.
Walmart (WMT) — Loser
The world’s largest retailer has often been portrayed as an all-weather performer. When the economy’s strong, folks go shopping. When the economy’s weak, department store shoppers trade down to Walmart for the bargains. Well, what happens when the shoppers don’t show up?
Walmart shares dipped on Thursday after surprising the market with a decline in same-store sales. The chain’s guidance for the current quarter also wasn’t very inspiring.
SodaStream (SODA) — Winner
Shares of SodaStream hit a new 52-week this week after it hosted its annual Analyst Day. One of the company’s revelations is that it’s working on more refrigerators that feature SodaStream technology to serve carbonated water from their front dispensers. Its partnership with Samsung resulted in the first fridge with that functionality hitting the market recently.
However, SodaStream promises that more models are on the way. It also discussed efforts to get SodaStream syrup incorporated into the refrigerators so users can get flavored soda right from that fridge’s water dispenser.
J.C. Penney (JCP) — Loser
Things aren’t getting any better at the department store chain, which saw sales plunge 25 percent last year. J.C. Penney kicked off the new fiscal year with a steep deficit as same-store sales tumbled 16.6 percent. No one was expecting the retailer to turn things the instant it sent former-CEO Ron Johnson packing, but the company did seem to suggest that things were getting better in a recent ad that thanked customers for returning.
“We’re happy to say you’ve come back to us,” concludes the television commercial.
Disney (DIS) — Winner
The family entertainment giant is giving live-streaming of its ABC network a shot. Between now and the end of June, residents of New York City and Philadelphia will be able to stream ABC shows as they air, either on their PCs or through the fittingly rebranded Watch ABC app for iPhones, iPads, and iPod touch devices.
Disney is suggesting that it will likely require verification that those taking advantage of the streams have active pay TV accounts after the trail ends in June. Disney doesn’t want to encourage cord cutting here, especially since it has ESPN and the Disney Channel to protect. It’s still a smart move for a company that has always been a step ahead of the competition when it comes to embracing digital delivery.
Abercrombie & Fitch (ANF) — Loser
Something that Abercrombie & Fitch’s CEO said in 2006 — yes, 2006 — has come back to haunt him.
“Candidly, we go after the cool kids,” CEO Mike Jefferies said in a Salon interview seven years ago. “We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong.”
He didn’t stop there.
“Are we exclusionary,” he asked rhetorically. “Absolutely. Those companies that are in trouble are trying to target everybody: young, old, fat, skinny. But then you become totally vanilla.”
The comments refer to Abercrombie & Fitch’s decision to not stock XL sizes or pants beyond size 10. Jefferies is catching a lot of heat for those comments with activists encouraging boycotts, and this week, an aspiring director even pulled off a well-publicized stunt by buying Abercrombie & Fitch clothing and handing it out to the homeless.
Motley Fool contributor Rick Munarriz owns shares of Walt Disney and SodaStream. The Motley Fool recommends SodaStream and Walt Disney. The Motley Fool owns shares of SodaStream and Walt Disney.