After many claims by marketing research companies about the clear winner in the CE category during last Holiday Season, we now are getting all the results in from the different manufacturers and brands. The picture is not always pretty and while some have a reason to smile, some are not so fortunate.
Let us go down the list and take a look at how your favorite brand is doing. For comparison of some top brands, we have created a chart based on the performance from Q4′10 to Q4′11. Looking at the attached chart, we show three levels of information.
- The Sales Growth is shown on the x-axis. This number shows how much the sales (measured in $) grew from Q4′10 to Q4′11. We are using all numbers on a $ basis and converted local currencies based on today’s exchange rates.
- The Net-Profit Growth is shown on the y-axis. In the same manner we are showing the change in Net-Profit from the year before.
- The size of the bubble is related to the overall sales $ achieved by the respective company.
The clear winner is Apple. Apple is the only company that achieved significant sales and net-profit growth in the fourth quarter of last year. I am not going to go into more details of the results, but Apple has only one product on the downswing - the iPod. All other products are growing including the PC segment.
Then there is Samsung. Also showing positive development in sales as well as net-profit, the results are by far not as impressive as the Apple showing. Samsung is selling a much wider array of products and one would expect a more moderate response to overall market conditions. It is still a strong showing for the second largest company discussed here.
In third place is LG. While very similar to Samsung in its product offering, LG had a small decline in revenue, but still managed a positive change in net-profits. Here the story has to be told correctly. While Samsung is a profitable company, LG managed to improve its profitability to the point where it only lost $100M during the last quarter of 2011. Still more improvement is needed to bring LG back into the black.
Sony not only lost revenue in the fourth quarter but also slipped form a positive net-profit in Q4′10 to a negative one in Q4′11. Certainly a very negative development, and one might wonder if this will influence future changes in the upper management of Sony (besides the replacement of Sir Howard Stringer as president - he remains chairman of the board, however). With the change at the helm, investors also expect a change in future results. One of the statements from the new leader is a very clear message to all business units that are underperforming: get well or get out! One last thing to mention here is that the TV unit was lowest performer within Sony - but they vow to continue with this core technology, so a mixed message. 2012 will be a very interesting year indeed.
In last place on our list is Sharp. Besides being the smallest company, it also posted the highest losses in Q4 and dropped from a neutral result in Q4′10 to a deep red result (net-loss of $2.3B) in Q4′11. One main contributor to this dismal performance is also the TV sector. With Sharp’s new strategy to focus on large size TVs, these worries won’t go away over night. Their strategy requires a global improvement of the economic conditions to work in their favor. This slow pace was evident recently as Sharp says it will cut production in half at is Gen 10 plant in Sakai.
Other Japanese companies not mentioned in this article like Toshiba, Hitachi and Panasonic are having the same issues with their business results. In general, revenue and profitability is decreasing at a significant level and may force some players to re-evaluate their market strategy in the coming months.
Looking at the overall picture, I believe we have to look at new and upcoming CE brands as the future of our industry. China has a lot of companies that are eager to push to the forefront of CE development and will do so within a year or so. I will have to put them into my overview chart soon. It is on my To-do list.