It screamed from the quarterly reports of Israel's wireless companies. They have no market.
Ceragon (Nasdaq:CRNT), the great hope of the Tel Aviv-based RAD hi-tech group, found itself reporting revenue of $3.1 million. Vyyo (Nasdaq:VYYO), touted as another feather in the cap of Israeli serial entrepreneur Davidi Gilo, did even worse with quarterly revenue of $2.4 million.
Newcomer Alvarion (Nasdaq:ALVR) (ALVR) was an exception. Although the company created by the merger of BreezeCOM and Floware presented a massive third-quarter loss of $72.5 million including one-time charges, it also reported relatively solid revenues of $27.8 million.
Not bad, considering the flabbiness of the American economy in general and the telecommunications market in particular. Moreover, although Alvarion's sales dipped from the previous quarter, it was only by 4%.
Alvarion aside, the broadband industry is in a mess. Not only are revenues vanishing, as demonstrated by Israel's Ceragon and Vyyo. Last week New Hampshire-based company Spike Broadband Systems, a key competitor to Alvarion, threw in the towel.
Spike was established in 1995. Last week the company, which had provided broadband wireless access solutions to service providers and businesses, closed down, leaving only a skeleton staff of administrators. Another victim of the times was Orlando, Florida-based Triton, which has decided to go ahead with its liquidation after key customers keeled over.
Alvarion has also wielded the ax, losing 260 people in two waves ¿ but in its case, it has 490 left.
Spike's case is scary because of the speed of its deterioration. In November 2000 it secured $47 million venture capital. But the money trickled, poured, through its fingers, even after trimming its staff with a vengeance.
How will Spike's demise affect Alvarion? On the downside, it demonstrates that the market is all but nonexistent, says analyst Ehud Eisenstein of Oscar Gruss. On the other hand, it's less competition for Alvarion, which held about 30% of what market there was at the end of the second quarter.
Eisenstein foresees Alvarion becoming the dominant player in its niche in the first quarter of 2002. Recent assessments put the BWA market's growth at 20% a year, which would bring it from $660 million in 2000 to $1.6 billion in 2005.
Spike and Triton foundered. Ceragon and Vyyo gamely stride on, albeit with shrunken staffs, onto the uncertain future. Analysts generally agree that Alvarion will weather the buffeting.
Alvarion hopes to end 2001 with $180 million in cash and equivalents, after paying off one-time charges and write-downs. It's a good example of a successful merger, says Salomon Smith Barney analyst Victor Halpert. But, he added, SSB does not see the BWA market picking up in the near future.
Alvarion concurs, as is evident in its guidance for the fourth quarter, where the top of the forecast revenue range is $30 million and the bottom - $25 million. But co-CEO Amnon Yacoby has faith in the future and sees the company joining the consolidation trend once it finishes digesting its merger. If anything, the way things look now, he sees Alvarion leading the consolidation trend.