- Mike Coppola/Getty
A company’s earnings can be affected by many variables.
The strength of the dollar, consumer economic sentiment, and even the weather can influence a given quarter on a company’s books.
Recently, restaurant chain Cosi linked poor earnings to Pope Francis’ US visit.
Its earnings call prompted us to dig up other examples of strange excuses companies have used to explain declining revenue.
We found poor financials being blamed on the NSA, ISIS, superstitious brides, lipstick, and more. Scroll on to see a list of actual earnings excuses:
Netflix blamed the transition to chip-based credit and debit cards for its slower than expected US subscriber growth.
Netflix on October 14, 2015, blamed disappointing US subscriber growth on the transition to chip-based credit and debit cards.
The new chips embedded in credit cards are designed to combat fraud, however, Business Insider learned from the streaming video service that the cards have been wreaking havoc on Netflix’s payment system.
In a letter to shareholders, Netflix said its forecast for the third quarter was off due to higher-than-expected “involuntary churn” caused by the transition to the chip embedded credit cards.
Cosi blamed the pope’s US visit for a 4.5% decline in sales.
On October 7, 2015, Cosi announced a 4.5% drop in comparable restaurant sales at company-owned Cosi locations. In an earnings call, Cosi blamed the drop on the pope’s visit to New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, DC.
Some streets where Cosi restaurants are located were briefly blocked off to accommodate Pope Francis’ travel. In a statement, the company said sales were hurt by business interruptions at 30% of the chain’s company-owned Cosi restaurants, as a direct result of the pontiff’s visit.
J.Crew’s CEO said failure to secure the perfect cardigan decreased sales.
On June 5, 2015, J.Crew CEO Mickey Drexler blamed the company’s poor performance on a lack of the “perfect cardigan.” First-quarter sales fell by 5% year over year, and his response was simple. “We had a cardigan, but it didn’t fit that well.”
“We missed the following in sweaters: Perfect Cardigan; the Tippi, we didn’t buy enough; we made a big mistake in the Tilly, Perfect V and the Perfect Crewneck – we had a Perfect Crew and it sold out early. We bought too much of the Tilly, which was a relative of the Tippi,” Drexler said.
Imperial Tobacco blamed a slump in cigarette sales on instability caused by ISIS.
Imperial Tobacco blamed a slump in cigarette sales on regional instability caused by the Islamic State. The UK-based company blamed 2% of its 5% decline on “the deteriorating political and security situation“ in Iraq.
According to RT.com, the company claimed “land grabs by the Islamic State … in northern Iraq have caused distribution problems, making it harder to get cigarettes to the areas.”
“Trading reduced significantly against a backdrop of a worsening political and security situation in territories where we have a high presence,” Imperial Tobacco’s earnings report said.
There is some validity to the company’s argument. IBTimes reports that ISIS will issue 40 lashes to someone caught smoking. A second offense can lead to time spent in an ISIS holding facility, and a third can lead to death by decapitation.
Macy’s CFO Karen Hoguet blamed lipstick and Netflix for the company’s poor quarterly earnings.
- Wikimedia Commons
Macy’s chief financial officer, Karen Hoguet, blamed the company’s weakness in the luxury retail market on lipstick and Netflix. During an earnings call on March 26, 2015, Hoguet said, “We did some consumer research, and the customers said, she likes going to the off-price retailers because she doesn’t have to put lipstick on.”
Hoguet said electronic devices were growing in popularity, making it easier for customers to spend their money on services such as Netflix. “I think part of that is the customers are buying other things, whether the electronics, cable services, Netflix, whatever,” the CFO said.
Intel blamed a 13-year-old Windows XP operating system for its earnings problems.
- Ethan Miller/Getty Images
On March 12, 2015, Intel blamed Microsoft XP for some of its earning troubles. The company slashed its quarterly revenue outlook by almost $1 billion. According to CNET, Intel officials said “business customers are proving reluctant to upgrade from Windows XP.”
While Windows XP was still being used by some businesses, its market share fell from 17% to 11% over the 12-month period leading up to Intel earning’s report. Windows 7 systems at the time of Intel’s earnings call were already claiming 50% of the global PC market.
Carnival Cruise Lines blamed the Syrian refugee crisis and other geopolitical issues on declining traveler numbers.
- Wikimedia Commons
During an S&P 500 earnings call on October 12, 2014, ValueWalk noted that many excuses were given for weaker-than-expected numbers at numerous companies. Only one of those company’s blamed lower-than-expected earnings on the Syrian refugee crisis.
Carnival Cruise Lines told its investors, “By the time we get to December, maybe those things won’t be the same, but today, with some of the headwinds in Europe, geopolitical, macroeconomic malaise, the intense tension over there around the refugee situation, that has affected all travel, not just cruise, but all travel.”
Carnival also blamed China, Europe, and a strong dollar for its poor earnings report.
Elizabeth Arden blamed sales of Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber perfumes for its financial woes.
- Getty Images
When Elizabeth Arden sales started to fall apart, the company decided to pass the blame onto its celebrity endorsements. In August 2014, the company announced a 28.4% decrease in quarterly sales.
“The decline in sales of celebrity fragrances, particularly the Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift fragrances, was steeper than anticipated,” the company said.
Men’s Wearhouse blamed brides and their superstition over the number 13 for poor sales.
- Thomson Reuters
In September 2013, Men’s Wearhouse CEO Doug Ewert blamed brides and the number 13 for his company’s lousy sales, which fell by 10%. Ewert blamed “numerical anomalies,” specifically triskaidekaphobia, or fear of the number 13. According to the company’s CEO, women were afraid to get married in the year 2013 because it could bring bad luck. He blamed the fear of the number 13 for a downturn in tuxedo sales and rentals for grooms.
The Wall Street Journal recorded this gem of information from his earnings call: “We are aware of widespread negative results impacting the wedding industry this year. We believe this is mostly a timing shift. Historically, we’ve seen numeric anomalies in the calendar affect when brides choose their wedding date, and we believe that the number 13 in 2013 is causing a small, but meaningful number of brides to avoid getting married this year.”
He added, “It’s reassuring to see a significant increase in advance reservation for 2014 wedding, though.”
Cisco blamed NSA spying for a decrease in hardware sales to foreign companies and governments.
Cisco in November 2013 shocked analysts when sales in emerging markets dropped by 12%. Analysts had predicted a 6% increase in sales. At the time of the earnings call Cisco blamed the National Security Agency for its woes.
The company said foreign buyers didn’t want to buy American hardware for fear the NSA may have a hand in monitoring the product, Quartz revealed. Cisco shares plunged by 10% in after-hours trading.