With Matsushita, Sharp and Sony forecasting a Y1.3 trillion ($17 billion) combined loss for the year, you have to ask: Are the Consumer Kings on the way out?
Japanese companies have been kings of the world’s consumer electronics industry since the 1980s when they stormed the world market with colour TVs and VCRs.
But, in the 90s, the Koreans started eating away at their dominance and, in the current decade, Apple started dismantling it wholesale.
Now Matsushita says it will lose Y780 billion ($10 billion) in the year to the end of March 2012, Sony says it will lose Y220 billion ($2.9 billion), and Sharp says it will lose Y290 billion ($3.8 billion).
Ominously for the Japanese, Samsung says it will spend $22 billion on capex and $21 billion on new product development this year.
Curiously, the spate of ingenious new products out of Japan, which enthralled the world’ consumers for a couple of decades, started to dry up at around the time the Japanese companies became very concerned with their balance sheets.
ROI, ROE, RONA etc are no substitute for great products.