The pope, Justin Bieber, and other ridiculous excuses companies have made for poor earnings

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:

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.

Macy's CFO Karen Hoguet blamed lipstick and Netflix for the company's poor quarterly earnings.

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
Intel CEO Brian Krzanich.

On March 12, 2015, Intel blamed Microsoft XP for some of its earning troubles. The company slashed its quarterly revenue outlook by almost $US1 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 the 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 traveller numbers.

Wikimedia Commons

During S&P 500 earnings called 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.

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.

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