April 26th was a very big day in the world of drama. On this day in 1564, William Shakespeare was born in Stratford-Upon-Avon and went on to a career as possibly (okay, definitely) the best-known playwright in human history. Just think, were he alive today he would be a mere 448-years young.
However, while a positive titan in the world of drama, Shakespeare’s birthday doesn’t seem to have nearly as much importance in the world of the stock market. Or at least, that’s how it might seem. For, while it would take a bit of a stretch in most cases, the universal themes explored in some of Shakespeare’s classics could potentially be applied to some of today’s publicly-traded companies.
Romeo and Juliet – T-Mobile and AT&T (T)
Romeo and Juliet tells the tale of star-crossed lovers who desperately want to be together but cannot let their love blossom because of the circumstances surrounding it. This might bring to mind the announced and then failed sale of T-Mobile from its current owners Deutsche Telekom (DTEGY) and AT&T (T), which couldn’t seem to happen despite the desire of both parties to see it through. And, of course, who could forget the legendary speech Mercutio gives in the second act of Romeo and Juliet about the importance of wireless spectrum for the future of the industry.
Hamlet – Wal-Mart (WMT)
As it would turn out, there aren’t any companies currently going through a situation where its CEO achieves his position by poisoning the old CEO only to have that man’s son uncover the plot and then have the entire Board of Directors die in a bizarre fencing accident. Alas, poor Yorick! However, with the scandal the New York Times uncovered about a massive system of bribery at Wal-Mart de Mexico and the subsequent cover up by Wal-Mart executives, it’s possible that the ax will end up falling on enough executives that it will bear some resemblance to the final scene of Hamlet.
Julius Caesar – Netflix (NFLX)
One of the most important themes of Julius Caesar is that of hubris, with Caesar’s hubris leading to his ultimate demise. Overconfidence can be a serious problem for any leader, and Reed Hastings’s decision to double the cost of his services last year, paired with an attempt to spin off the DVD-mail arm into an entirely separate service, could easily be interpreted as being motivated by deep levels of hubris. However, it’s hard to compare this to crossing the Rubicon given that Hastings has yet to be assaulted and stabbed to death by an entire executive boardroom. Also, Reed Hastings probably doesn’t warrant many comparisons to Julius Caesar just as a general rule of thumb.
Macbeth - First Solar (FSLR)
There isn’t a real specific comparison to make here aside from the reputation Mackers has among actors and theater types for being cursed and First Solar’s nearly 90 percent plunge since mid-February of last year. Could the stock be cursed? Or did Chairman and Interim CEO Michael Ahearn perhaps dare utter the title of “The Scottish Play” while in a theater? Or did Chinese manufacturers flood the market with cheap solar panels and create an oversupply that eroded the price for its product? Probably one of those three things.