The brightness has turned to darkness.
disclosure late Wednesday that it will
miss its earnings and revenue projections for the fourth quarter will likely ripple beyond the reseller of cell phone handsets to the manufacturers of those handsets, analysts say. Brightpoint slid 66 cents, or 15%, to $3.69.
Indianapolis-based Brightpoint has long trumpeted its relationship with
, the largest seller of mobile phones in the world. The majority of the company's business is derived from the sale of mobile phones, and most of those phones are Finland-based Nokia products.
But Brightpoint also resells phones from a veritable who's who of manufacturers, including No. 2
, No. 3
So, when Brightpoint says that it will miss its fourth-quarter revenue target by as much as 11% and its earnings goal by as much as 40%, citing weak demand and price cuts, it's natural to expect that manufacturers will be similarly affected.
We're All In It Together
"If consumers are not buying as much and if pricing is more and more competitive, then it hurts everyone," says Elliott Schlang, managing director and general manager of
LJR Great Lakes Review
. He rates Brightpoint a gradual accumulate and his firm doesn't underwrite stock offerings.
The weakness in demand cited by Brightpoint has built up inventory of unbought items. Distributors and customers must sell off that excess before buying more products from the likes of Nokia. In an attempt to sell off that excess, prices have been cut, which in turns lowers gross margins.
"If this is a broad-based problem, manufacturers may be negatively impacted by an inventory corrections," observes Rob Damron, an analyst with
. He rates Brightpoint a buy and his firm has done no underwriting for the company.
Motorola had already reduced its expectations for worldwide mobile-phone sales in 2000 and 2001, proclaiming a lack of decline in demand earlier this month when it too warned of a
fourth-quarter shortfall. Earlier this year, the company, which is experiencing woes of its own, had estimated worldwide sales of 425 million to 450 million cell phones this year and 600 million for next year. It then took those numbers down considerably, to 450 million in 2000 and 525 million to 575 million in 2001.
"This may be a tad lower even than the reduced estimates," Damron says of the new information from Brightpoint.
Shares of Nokia were unchanged at $41.13 in midday Thursday trading, while shares of Ericsson were up 81 cents to $11.44 and shares of Motorola were down 6 cents to $18.38.
Nokia, however, shrugs off talk of slowing demand and possible effects on its numbers. "A few weeks ago, we gave pretty
firm guidance about extending revenue growth and upping our forecast in terms of subscribers," says a spokeswoman for Nokia. "We see demand outstripping supply. We haven't changed our statements." When asked whether Nokia has lowered prices on its products or offered rebates, she replied, "I have not heard anything about that."
Jan Ahrenbring, vice president of marketing for Ericsson's consumer division, emphasizes that the company has already disclosed its concerns about softer demand for phones this year and next year, as well as its predictions for pricing pressure on sales this quarter. "We don't see any unforeseen big changes or problems ahead," he says.
And Jeffrey Schlesinger, an analyst with
, says it is too early to determine the impact of Brightpoint's news on the handset manufacturers. Because of the way these companies recognize revenue, any impact is likely to be felt in the first quarter of fiscal 2001, rather than the fourth quarter of fiscal 2000, which ends on Dec. 31, he says. (Schlesinger rates Brightpoint a buy and his firm has participated in underwriting for the company.)
Calls seeking Motorola comment weren't immediately returned.