What's Important in the Financial World (11/1/2012)


More of the Same from Sony

Sony Corp. (NYSE: SNE) managed to maintain its habit of posting quarterly losses. In its most recent fiscal quarter, the large Japanese consumer electronics company lost $194 million. The reasons for the losses are about the same as they have been for several years. Sony has fallen well behind Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) and Samsung in the consumer electronics field. It does not have a popular operating system of its own, as Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG) has in Android. So it has been left on the margins of the consumer electronics and handset worlds. Sony's other main divisions make cameras, TVs and product movies. The prices for digital cameras and TVs are so low that manufacturers in Korean and China have used labor costs to gain an advantage. Movie studio profits change wildly from quarter to quarter based on the success or failure of blockbuster films. New CEO Kazuo Hirai promised improvement after a number of lean years under former chief Sir Howard Stringer. Instead, Sony has little to offer but more of the same.

Greece Running Out of Cash

Greece cannot seem to work its way out of the financial news by settling on austerity programs that would trigger aid from the International Monetary Fund and European Union. Internal battles among political parties have held up progress. Worse, the Greek economy continues to implode as a six-year recession turns into a depression. Analysts now expect debt-to-GDP to reach nearly 200% in 2014. If the country's neighbors believe it is essential to keep Greece in the European Union, they will need to accept that its deficit is a moving target and that current aid is no more than a stop gap. According to CNBC, Thanos Vamvakidis, head of European G10 currency strategy at Bank of America Merrill Lynch said: "Greece is running out of cash. The current strategy is really not working and there is substantial political risk."

The Defense Department's BlackBerrys

The Defense Department will continue to take new bids for its suppliers of smartphones. The BlackBerry, made by Canada's Research In Motion Ltd. (NASDAQ: RIMM), has most of that business, but the new bids could change that. The media have been quick to point out the obvious. Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) could get a stronghold in Defense, and is likely to because it has products widely favored in the market. But it is too early to assume that the BlackBerry cannot hold most of its position. BlackBerry software comes with secure servers, which makes it ideal for creating secure systems. That may be more important than the popularity of any one device. Reuters reports that despite BlackBerry's advantage:

Losing some of its Pentagon business to other providers could deal another blow to RIM, which once commanded the lead in the smartphone market but has rapidly lost ground to Apple and Samsung's line of products as customers abandon its aging BlackBerry devices.

Douglas A. McIntyre

Filed under: 24/7 Wall St. Wire, Market Open Tagged: AAPL, featured, GOOG, RIMM, SNE

Originally published