Good Quarter for Apple – Apple retail revenue was at an all-time high for this quarter, fuelled mainly by huge iPhone and iPad sales. Apple Stores had to expand or relocat 14 stores which outgrew their space. They also opened 11 new stores, bring the total count worldwide to 401. They generated an average of $16.3 million per store. However, it’s not been all roses at Apple: the gross margin was down 44.7% from a year ago, there have been a series of high-profile departures at senior management level and stores are coming under pressure from other staff.
Samsung Takes 3% Stake in Sharp – Samsung Electronics extended a $110 million lifeline investment to Japan’s Sharp, giving the South Korean electronics giant another source of LCD displays for everything from TVs to mobile devices. Sharp has been restructuring after continued losses. They are one of the world’s largest LCD panel makers and one of the top producers of large-screen panels for LCD TVs. Samsung will have no involvement in Sharp’s business management. Sharp also recently secured an up to $120 million investment from Qualcomm for development of low-power displays for mobile devices, and an $800 million investment from Foxconn Electronics in one of Sharp’s main LCD factories.
Systemax Reports Losses – Systemax reported losses for Q4 and the full year on restructuring changes and weakness in its U.S. consumer business. Losses included a $35.3 million write-off from the consolidation of its CompUSA and Circuit City retail and e-tail operations under the TigerDirect brand, and a $4.6 million write-down from exiting a computer manufacturing business. Sales were adversely impacted by unfavorable currency exchange rates, and their CEO reported that buying patterns within the consumer channel “remain challenged.”
Denon Targets Demand for Uncomplicated AVR Setup – Denon had begun shipping a new entry-level series of AV receivers targeted to purchasers turned off by complicated setup procedures and controls. [Bravo!] The E series of AVRs consists of three models retailing from $249 to $599. They have color-coded speaker terminals and matching-color cable tags to ensure the correct speaker-cable hookup out of the box. There are push-in-type speaker wire connections to further simplify speaker connections. The two top models add a more intuitive and easier-to-use setup assistant with an onscreen graphical display combining large text and icons. Users can press a single button to select the Blu-ray, cable/satellite, Aux or Game inputs. All three models have four Quick Select buttons on the front panel and on the remote.