November 2011
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Day November 4, 2011

The end of the independent phone brand

As shown in the yesterday’s post, in the third quarter, overall mobile phone profitability declined. The eight vendors I use as a proxy showed a total net profit of $8.51 billion, down slightly from $8.57 billion and a drop of $9.01 billion in the first quarter.

Overall, the industry dropped by 1% sequentially but is still up 30% over last year and has a 20% compounded growth rate over a three year period.

  • Nokia returned to profitability, though at $180 million it’s only about 2% of the top eight.
  • Motorola remained in the red with a small loss of $20 million, an improvement over the $90 million loss of the previous quarter. Motorola is being acquired by Google after an accumulated mobile operating loss of $4.69 billion since the beginning of 2007. It’s unlikely we’ll receive any updates on performance thereafter.
  • Samsung had a great quarter with a sequential increase of 19% and year-on-year growth of 130%. The total profit amounted to 25% of the peer group.
  • Sony Ericsson broke even with about $50 million in operating profit. Like Motorola its performance was barely break-even during the last four years and its also disappearing from our list of independent vendors as it becomes part of Sony.
  • LG had its sixth consecutive quarterly loss and is now appealing to investors for more capital to continue operating as a smartphone vendor. Raising dilutive capital seems a radical approach and not one that inspires confidence.
  • RIM had a sequential reduction in profit of 35% and y/y reduction of 30%. The company is exhibiting clear signs of decay and the stock market is valuing the company below book value.
  • Apple profit dropped by 19% but grew 43% y/y during a transitional quarter. The growth remains 43% compounded over three years.
  • HTC has a 1% sequential increase but a 78% y/y growth.

To illustrate the performance in terms of profit, pricing, volumes and margins, I developed the following chart.