HK Business News

Samsung Reigns! Panasonic, Sony and Sharp Lose


Samsung Electronics will likely ship over 60 milllion smartphones in the fourth quarter of 2012 given the popularity of its Galaxy Note 2 and S3 devices.

The Yonhap News Agency, citing research findings from investment bank UBS, said Wednesday that the South Korean electronics giant will sell 61.5 million units of smartphones in the October-December period. This is an increase of 5% from an estimated 58 million units in the previous quarter, it noted.

The shipment volume could go up to as high as 63 million depending on sell-through, or the amount of devices actually sold to consumers, it added.

Samsung’s Galaxy Note 2, the smartphone-tablet hybrid released in September, will be a key contributor to the company’s growth.

Nicolas Gaudois, an analyst at UBS, wrote in the report: “The Galaxy Note 2 has shipped 3 million units in its first five weeks of sales, with sell-through strong in Asia and Europe, and the U.S. gathering pace post-launch. We hence forecast 7 million Galaxy Note 2, compared to our initial expectation of 5 million for the fourth quarter.”

On the other hand, Japan’s embattled electronics sector suffered another blow on November 22 as ratings agency Fitch downgraded industry titans Sony and Panasonic to junk status for the first time. The agency slapped a speculative rating on each firm, pointing to their weak balance sheets and declining position in the global electronics sector as they come up against stiff competition from overseas.

In the wake of huge losses, Panasonic, Sony and rival Sharp have announced massive corporate overhauls that include selling off divisions and tens of thousands of job cuts as their shares plunged. Japan’s electronics sector has suffered from myriad problems including a high yen, slowing demand in key export markets, fierce overseas competition and strategic mistakes that left their finances in ruins.

Panasonic has warned it is on track for a $9.6 billion annual loss, while Sony expects to eke out a small profit, after four years in the red. On November 22, Fitch said it cut Panasonic by two notches to BB, while it slashed Sony’s rating by three notches to BB-, with both firms given a negative outlook. The downgrades mean their debt was no longer considered a safe investment.

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Alan Chiu Tsang

Alan is a freelancer photographer and author for
He graduated from Hong Kong university in 2005.