As most of the world's major cell-phone handset manufacturers stubbornly cling to their already reduced yet still-rosy projections for industrywide sales this year, Wall Street is becoming more dour about the industry's prospects.
reduced its estimate by 5.9% to 480 million units from 510 million units, while
reduced its forecast by even more, 6.9%, to 475 million from 510 million. And while
slashed its number by 7.7%, it still stands at what now looks like the high end, at 490 million phones, down from 531 million.
Those cuts follow
move Friday to take down its estimate by 8%, to a new low of 460 million from 500 million.
The cell-phone manufacturers' stocks, however, were little affected by the news, probably because investors already know that handset sales won't grow as quickly as they have in the past.
, the world's biggest maker of handsets, was up $1.09, or 5.1%, to $22.43 in recent trading. It was enjoying a bounce from news that its networks division, which makes equipment for wireless networks, signed a
contract to supply more equipment to a Chinese mobile-communications company. Also in the black were shares of No. 3
, up 19 cents, or 2.3%, to $8.44. Meanwhile, shares of No. 2 Motorola were down 32 cents, or 1.9%, to $15.93.
Motorola, Ericsson and Nokia all reduced their handset sales forecasts last month, and in its
warning Friday, Motorola's chief operating officer reduced the company's forecast even further, acknowledging that selling fewer than 500 million phones was a possibility. That was a drastic change from its former projection that industry sales would come in at the low end of the range of 525 million to 575 million.
But Ericsson and Nokia have yet to follow suit, with Ericsson at 500 million to 540 million units and Nokia at 500 million to 550 million units.
Handset demand for the year will
decline because of slowing sales in the mature European markets, high inventory levels, as well as a
delay in upgrading to next-generation wireless data networks that has compelled few people to replace their current phones.
In a note issued Monday, Merrill analyst Michael Ching wrote, "Handset manufacturers would need to reduce their shipment plans in the first half of 2001 from today's 486 million levels, in order to adjust to the anticipated slowdown in market demand. Higher inventory in the channel could exacerbate shipments this year."