Apple's China Troubles; MSG's Lin-sanity; Avon Gets Dinged; Energy Conversion Convulsion; Yahoo! Channels Charlie.

5. Apple's China Troubles

Check it out! Chinese authorities are finally getting tough and taking illicit Apple(:AAPL) merchandise off the shelves. So let's all stop knocking them as being unmotivated when it comes to property rights, shall we?

Of course, if they would only go after the knock-offs as opposed to the real thing then we could stop knocking them altogether.

Chinese cops spent the weekend yanking authentic Apple iPads from stores in Shijiazhuang, the capital of Hebei province, because of a legal dispute with Shenzhen Proview Technology, a domestic company claiming to own the "iPad" name. Apple purchased the rights to use the iPad trademark from Proview's Taipei unit in 2009 -- at least it thought it did -- for a whopping payment of $54,616.

Proview's Shenzhen-based unit, however, registered the trademark in 2001 and maintains it reserved the rights to use it in China, according to China's state-run Xinhua News Agency. The company's lawyer Xie Xianghui has asked authorities in more than 20 cities to destroy promotional materials that allegedly violate its trademark.

"We haven't made a demand for economic compensation. We will pursue it through another channel," says Xie, whose attacks ironically arrive at the same time Apple is seeking a court injunction against Samsung, alleging that it's Galaxy Nexus smartphone infringes on four Apple patents.

Speaking of channels, maybe Xie should turn his TV dial to old Seinfeld episodes, because Jerry would surely say of this situation: It's Bizarro World George! Bizarro I tell you.

Yes, the retailing world has been turned on its head. Canal Street merchants in New York's Chinatown are getting tagged for selling luxury goods with phony tags. Meanwhile, the country that barely blinks at bootlegged Hollywood movies and outlawed copies of Microsoft(:MSFT) Office is now pouncing on copyright pirates.

Or at least the ones plundering its own companies that is.

4. MSG's Lin-sanity

Enjoy your recent winning streak MSG(:MSG) shareholders, but remember that the only thing separating "Lin-sanity" from "insanity" is the letter "L."

L as in Loss.

Shares of Madison Square Garden hit an all-time high Monday, breaking the $33 barrier, bolstered by the play of New York Knick phenom Jeremy Lin. As the Harvard-educated rookie has continued his stellar play, leading the once-hapless Knicks to a seven-game winning streak, Madison Square Garden shares have surged along with the team's playoff chances.

The big question facing MSG investors now is whether they should continue to bet on Lin-sanity and hold onto their shares, now trading at a pricey 25 times 2013 earnings, or if they should recognize the insanity of banking on Lin's jump shot and cash out before the shooter -- and the stock -- go cold.

On the long Lin-sanity side, the Knicks' winning streak has come at the perfect time for MSG; both in its bid to raise ticket prices to pay for the Garden's pricey renovation, as well as in its battle with Time Warner Cable(:TWC).

After what looked like a lost season, both due to the NBA strike and early season Knick futility on the court, the Lin-based hype may help the Knicks further hike season ticket prices after a 49% lift in 2011.

Meanwhile, Lin's boost may also give MSG much needed leverage as it negotiates a multi-year distribution deal with Time Warner Cable. In early January, Madison Square Garden and Time Warner Cable ended talks that would bring MSG and MSG+ to 12 million-plus Time Warner subscribers for years to come.

With more and more fans interested in seeing whether Lin will pan or peter out, Time Warner may finally cave to the MSG boss Jim Dolan's demands.

As for the short MSG insanity trade?

We've heard of Wall Street analysts valuing companies according to earnings, sales, dividends and even eyeballs and subscribers during the Internet craze. But never have we heard of a stock price based on an NBA point guard's production, or his team's win/loss record.

With all due respect to Jeremy, even speaking about it seems fairly Lin-sane to us.

3. Avon Gets Dinged

Ignore the bell! Don't answer the door! The ding dongs from Avon(:AVP) are calling again and we just can't face up to their ridiculous excuses anymore.

The once-proud beauty products purveyor announced a $400,000 fourth-quarter net loss on Tuesday as sales sank, costs skyrocketed and the company slashed the value of a silver jewelry company it acquired in 2010. (Amazing! Only Avon could lose money on silver when the rest of the world is getting rich off the metal's rise.)

Despite the dismal Valentine's Day results, however, shareholders put on a brave face and bid the stock up 1.5% on the news, perhaps in the hope that things can only get better once the company officially replaces former CEO, but still chairman, Andrea Jung. Shares of Avon have been anything but attractive in the past year, falling 39%.

Meanwhile, the rest of Avon's numbers were no less foul with revenue down 4% in the quarter to $3.04 billion, units sold dropping 2% and its direct sales-force shrinking 3%. For the full year, Avon's earnings declined 15% to $513.6 million, or $1.18 per share, from $606.3 million, or $1.39 per share.

No, there is not enough cover-up in the world to paste over the ugliness that has occurred at Avon in the past year. From its bungling the Brazilian market to the never-ending Chinese bribery scandal to October's S.E.C. investigation, Avon shareholders could not catch a break in 2011. And that's why Jung spent much of Tuesday's investor call campaigning for patience in 2012 as the company tries to turn things around.

"My main message is that the organization is not standing still during this transition period," said Avon's number one lady. "Teams are moving forward and taking action where it makes full sense and thoughtfully tabling others where we should definitely wait."

Stop glossing over the real problem Andrea. When even you don't have enough lipstick to pretty up this pig then it's clearly time to let go for good.

2. Energy Conversion Convulsion

In case you were off buying flowers and missed it, Energy Conversion Devices(:ENER) entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Tuesday. Yes, despite it being Valentine's Day, the market offered neither a hug nor kiss for the downtrodden U.S. solar manufacturer as the company's shares sank 80% to 29 cents each.

Wait a second! Wasn't this company the object of everybody's affection for the past month rallying from 20 cents at the start of the year to $1.50? What the heck happened?

Put simply: Love stinks, short squeezes happen and this company never turned a profit in 30 years, so what on earth did you expect?

The bankruptcy shouldn't have come as a surprise to anyone. Like the other three major solar bankruptcies in the past year -- Evergreen Solar, Solyndra and SpectraWatt -- Energy Conversion struggled to keep costs down as prices on solar panels fell. Not helping the matter, European governments slashed their solar subsidies, making fossil fuels all the more attractive.

In the end, the only real issue in Energy Conversion's bankruptcy was timing, which also may have factored into the stock's ridiculous January run.

Because its convertible notes weren't due until 2013, there was a chance that the company wouldn't be forced to act until that bond deadline. Energy Conversion said in a press release about its bankruptcy, though, that it had reached an agreement with 70% of those bond holders, enabling the company to officially call it quits.

On a positive note, Energy Conversion was able to sell its battery subsidiary to BASF for $58 million. Nevertheless, the company now faces the grim prospect of trying to find a buyer for its manufacturing operations in bankruptcy, a task made even harder with solar stocks sagging and the political stink of Solyndra still lingering.

Yes all you hopeless romantics, Energy Conversion found misery instead of love this Valentine's Day. And now it has plenty of company.

1. Yahoo! Channels Charlie

Good grief Yahoo!(:YHOO). Not since Charlie Brown have we seen such a perennial loser like you.

In the latest case of the Internet portal's Peanuts-like behavior, the brass at Yahoo! was apparently blindsided when talks to sell its Asian assets broke down. According to All Things D, which first reported the story, Yahoo! was confident enough to send negotiators to Hong Kong last week to seal the deal and finally unload its stakes in China's Alibaba Group and Yahoo! Japan for much-needed cash to fuel its domestic growth.

Nevertheless, just when an agreement appeared within reach, the sides could not come to terms with a price for Yahoo!'s Asian holdings, which have been rising in value even as Yahoo's domestic business continues to sputter. The company's shares fell 76 cents, or 4.7%, on its latest frustration.

Come on guys! This is pathetic. Charlie Brown is going to have kicked a Super Bowl winning field goal by the time you finish this deal.

Granted, the goal posts of this transaction are wide enough for Snoopy to fly a blimp through. Estimates for the value of Yahoo!'s stake in the Asian properties range from $11 billion to $18 billion, just a tad under Yahoo!'s entire market cap of $19 billion.

Furthermore, Yahoo! raised the degree of difficulty by insisting on a "cash-rich split-off" to avoid paying taxes. Under that scenario, Yahoo! could have given the money generated from the Asian sale to frustrated shareholders in a special dividend.

That said, this latest setback is just further evidence that the company can do no right and has no sense of when and where things could go wrong.

And we certainly thought things were heading in the right direction after the hiring of former PayPal executive Scott Thompson as CEO earlier this year.

But hey, it's still early in Thompson's tenure, and with a recent board reshuffling, he's going to have a whole new gang behind him. So maybe Yahoo! will turn things around eventually and maybe Charlie Brown will finally kick that football, instead of landing flat on his back.

Hey! Stop snickering Snoopy! It's not that funny a thought.

--Written by Gregg Greenberg in New York.