Oct. 12, 2014, 8:37 PM
- Amid evaporating profits from its key mobile phones operation, Samsung (OTC:SSNLF, OTC:SSNGY) has fallen out of favor with investors thinking the company could be the next Motorola, Nokia, or BlackBerry, writes Andrew Bary. Another view, however, says Samsung looks more like Apple from a year and a half ago when it's stock plunged below $60 (split-adjusted), and traded at 6.5x earnings (excluding cash). Samsung today sells for 4.8x earnings, net of a $60B pile of cash and investments.
- "[Samsung's] semiconductor division and the cash are worth more than the current market cap," says Bernstein's Mark Newman, meaning investors are getting for free the world's largest maker of handsets, the leading display business, and the largest and most profitable TV maker.
- With $60B in cash against a $150B market cap (Apple has $133B and a $608B market cap), Samsung could find itself the target of an activist investor seeking share repurchases or a boost in the dividend (current yield 1.3%), but then again the Carl Icahns of this world can't as easily pressure family-controlled Korean companies the way they can Apple.
- The last word goes to CLSA's bullish Shaun Cochran: "It is ludicrous to compare Samsung to Nokia, BlackBerry, or Motorola ... Samsung has a history of reinventing itself time and time again. There is an institutional paranoia, a constant sense of crisis that has helped make Samsung so great.”
Oct. 6, 2014, 8:01 PM
- Samsung (OTC:SSNLF, OTC:SSNGY) expects to report a Q3 op. profit of KRW4.1T ($3.8B), down 60% Y/Y and well below a KRW5.6T consensus. Revenue is expected to total KRW47T ($44B), down 20.5% Y/Y and below a KWT50.9T consensus.
- The Korean electronics giant blames weak mobile sales and a declining smartphone ASP. With its efforts to differentiate via proprietary software/services running on top of Google's Android often falling flat, Samsung has been losing share to Chinese OEMs offering aggressively-priced low-end and mid-range devices. More recently, it has also had to deal with the iPhone 6/6 Plus launch.
- The Q3 warning comes on the heels of July's soft Q2 numbers.
Oct. 6, 2014, 1:36 AM
- As it seeks growth beyond smartphones, Samsung Electronics (OTC:SSNLF, OTC:SSNGY) says it will invest 15.6T won ($14.7B) to build a new chip plant in South Korea.
- Construction of the facility will begin next year, with the aim to be completed in 2017.
- Samsung has been on a falling cycle of capital expenditure, which dropped to 10% of sales last fiscal year from 14% in 2010. It plans to devote the bulk of its capex, or W14.4T, to semiconductors this year.
Sep. 26, 2014, 2:41 PM
- Google (GOOG +0.5%) has been increasing the number of Google apps OEMs must pre-install on phones running the company's version of Android to "as many as 20," The Information reports, citing confidential docs.
- Google is also said to be requiring more apps be placed on the home screen or "in a prominent folder," and that Google search be given more prominence. Affected OEMs reportedly include Samsung (OTC:SSNLF), Huawei, and HTC.
- The bundling of Google apps/services (especially Google search) is pivotal to Google's Android monetization strategy. Moreover, Google's ability to mandate bundling, together with Android's ~80% smartphone unit share, helps keep the company's mobile traffic acquisition costs down - the Web giant reportedly makes huge traffic acquisition payments to Apple for Mobile Safari search integration.
- Regulators and OEMs haven't always been thrilled with Google's requirements. The WSJ reported in July EU regulators are likely to launch a formal probe of Google's Android licensing policies.
- In January, Re/code reported Samsung had agreed (in tandem with a new patent cross-license) to tone down support for its own apps/services (often less popular than Google's) on Android phones. More recently, Samsung has been reported to be moving engineers out of its mobile software ops to other units.
Sep. 19, 2014, 4:49 AM
- Despite cancelling the launch of its homegrown Tizen operating system already twice this year, a company exec now says Samsung (OTC:SSNLF, OTC:SSNGY) will attempt the release again in November.
- With the new OS, Samsung is looking to lessen its reliance on Google' Android, which currently powers the vast majority of the mobile devices sold by the South Korean giant.
Sep. 9, 2014, 9:23 AM
- A large patch of the retail sector will have their ears perked up this afternoon to see what Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) delivers up with its iWatch announcement or teaser.
- Though the company's entry into wearable technology is considered nearly a certainty, the unknown variable is if the product will end up falling under the "gadget" category or be another Apple device revolution.
- Computerworld's Mike Egan is in the latter camp: "The iWatch should be most comparable to the Mac and the iPhone, Apple's two most stunning revolution."
- Forrester Research isn't waiting for details, forecasting 10M iWatch sales by 2016 - a mark which could dent demand for high-end watches.
- Showtime is 1:00 pm ET. (webcast)
- Luxury watchmakers: Movado (NYSE:MOV), Fossil (NASDAQ:FOSL), Swatch (OTCPK:SWGAY), Tiffany (NYSE:TIF), Richemont (OTCPK:CFRUY), LVMH Moet Hennessy (OTCPK:LVMHF), Hermes (OTCPK:HESAF)
- Wearable technology players: Sony (NYSE:SNE), Nike (NYSE:NKE), Samsung (OTC:SSNLF, OTC:SSNGY), Garmin (NASDAQ:GRMN), Basis (NASDAQ:INTC), Fitbit, Jawbone, Adidas (OTCQX:ADDYY), Under Armour (NYSE:UA).
Sep. 3, 2014, 11:52 AM
- The Gear VR, long rumored to be in the pipeline, relies on Samsung's (OTC:SSNLF, OTC:SSNGY) just-announced Galaxy Note 4 to run Oculus VR's (FB -1.1%) software, and provide the device's display and sensors. For now, no other phones work with the device.
- Unlike the gaming-focused Oculus Rift (still in beta), the Gear VR doesn't need a wired connection to a PC. Users interact with the headset through a trackpad and head movements. No price details have been given yet.
- Initial testers are intrigued by the Gear VR's potential, but are also quick to point out content/game support and software/UI development are still very much works in progress. Samsung/Oculus promise a content store will soon be available, and note initial content partners include DreamWorks, Warner Bros., Fox, and Marvel.
- Facebook was recently reported to be working with Hollywood on Oculus deals. Meanwhile, Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe has made it clear he considers OEM deals crucial to his firm's efforts to drive mass adoption of its platform, which has a solid head-start on rivals from a software standpoint. Competition will be provided by Sony's Morpheus headset and Google's Cardboard Android VR platform.
Sep. 3, 2014, 10:13 AM
- As rumored, Samsung's (OTC:SSNLF, OTC:SSNGY) Galaxy Note 4 sports a 5.7" quad-HD (2560x1440) display; the Note 3 has a 1080p display. Other improvements include a revamped S Pen (twice the pressure sensitivity, among other things), a metal rim, and the addition of optical image stabilization, a fingerprint scanner, and a heart rate sensor.
- The U.S. version will run on Qualcomm's (QCOM +0.8%) high-end Snapdragon 805 processor (2.7GHz., quad-core) and support Cat-6 LTE; the Note 3 uses the Snapdragon 800. Some international models will use Samsung's Exynos 5433 processor (1.9GHz., 8-core) and only support Cat-4 LTE. The 5433 beat the 805 in some early benchmarks.
- Samsung has also launched the Note Edge, a phone with combines most of the Note 4's specs with a display that curves downwards at the sides. Samsung argues the edges of the display can be used to quickly glance at information while the phone is lying on a table.
- Samsung, which pioneered the phablet market 3 years ago, is counting on the Note 4/Edge to both counter hungry Chinese OEMs that have been grabbing share, and deal with the pending launch (per numerous reports) of a 5.5" iPhone 6. The company still maintains a high phablet share in the U.S.
- Universal Display (OLED +1.4%) benefits from Samsung's use of a quad-HD display, since the panel requires more OLED materials than a 1080p display.
Sep. 2, 2014, 6:55 AM
- In yet another round of Samsung restructuring, Samsung Electronics (OTC:SSNLF, OTC:SSNGY) says it will consider acquiring the shares of unlisted medical equipment maker Samsung Medison that it does not currently own.
- Samsung Electronics currently holds a 68.5% stake in Samsung Medison, which has a book value of about 478B won ($472M).
- Samsung's restructuring has accelerated since the May hospitalization of the group's chairman Lee Kun-hee, and has sparked investor speculation to the group's succession.
Aug. 28, 2014, 4:45 AM
- Samsung (OTC:SSNLF, OTC:SSNGY) and LG (OTC:LGEIY) will face off at a trade show in Berlin next week, showing off their new smartwatch models.
- Unlike its previous versions, Samsung's new "standalone" watch will support 3G wireless networks and be able to make and receive calls without having to be tethered to a smartphone. The watch, called the "Gear S," will run on the company's Tizen operating system.
- LG’s new smartwatch, called the "G Watch R," will be powered by Android and have a rounded 1.3-inch plastic OLED screen.
Aug. 28, 2014, 2:26 AM
- In the latest round of the remaining Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Samsung (OTC:SSNLF, OTC:SSNGY) patent wars, U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh has denied Apple's bid for a permanent injunction prohibiting Samsung from selling infringing features on its smartphones that relate to three earlier patents.
- Earlier this year, Apple won a $120M jury verdict against Samsung related to the patents and was hoping to extend the ruling.
- Until recently, the two have been been embroiled in untold numbers of global patent lawsuits, but both dropped all claims on battles outside the U.S. earlier this month.
Aug. 19, 2014, 5:59 AM
- Drifting again toward the "Internet of Things", Samsung (OTC:SSNLF, OTC:SSNGY) has purchased U.S. air conditioner distributor Quietside.
- The acquisition is aimed at strengthening the company's "smart home" business, which enables users to control multiple household appliances from a mobile device.
- Last week, Samsung snapped up SmartThings, a developer of home automation hardware/software platforms.
Aug. 18, 2014, 4:34 AM
- Samsung (OTC:SSNLF, OTC:SSNGY) is planning to set up a factory to produce mobile phones primarily for Indonesia, one of the world's fastest growing markets for the devices.
- Production capacity at the facility in West Java will be initially set at 100K units per month, but will eventually climb to 900K.
- Seeing sales of its flagship Galaxy models weaken in more established markets, Samsung is turning to markets with low smartphone penetration rates and higher disposable incomes like Indonesia.
Aug. 14, 2014, 7:16 PM
- Samsung (OTC:SSNLF, OTC:SSNGY) has acquired SmartThings, developer of a home automation hardware/software platform. Re/code reports the purchase price is $200M.
- SmartThings' platform relies on kits featuring a router and small sensors that attach to various home items. Once installed, users can monitor, control, and customize connected devices using mobile apps.
- The acquisition follows Google's purchases of smart thermostat/smoke detector vendor Nest and Wi-Fi monitoring camera maker Dropcam, and the launch of Apple's HomeKit platform, which aims to let 3rd-party home devices be controlled with iOS hardware.
- SmartThings is looking to differentiate itself by creating an open platform for 3rd-party apps/services - founder/CEO Alex Hawkinson claims SmartThings supports 1K+ devices and 8K+ apps. Control4 (NASDAQ:CTRL), whose shares took off after the Google/Nest deal was announced, is among SmartThings' rivals.
Aug. 13, 2014, 11:28 AM
- Samsung (OTC:SSNLF, OTC:SSNGY) has partly given in to calls to offer phones with Apple-like metal cases rather than plastic ones: Its new Galaxy Alpha sports a metal frame around its sides. However, the device still has a plastic rear shell that strongly resembles the Galaxy S5's.
- Moreover, unlike the rumored Galaxy F (expected to have a full metal case), the Alpha carries mid-range specs notably worse than the S5's: It has a 4.7" 720p display, 12MP rear camera, and 2GB of RAM.
- Separately, The Verge has posted pictures of Samsung's upcoming VR headset (will use a phone's display/sensors), and states the device will be unveiled at a September event also expected to feature the Note 4, which might also have a metal frame. Past reports have stated Samsung is relying on Facebook's Oculus VR to provide the headset's software.
Aug. 5, 2014, 10:48 PM
- Following untold numbers of lawsuits, injunction requests, court petitions, and billed legal hours, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Samsung (OTC:SSNLF, OTC:SSNGY) have agreed to drop all suits against each other in Germany, the U.K., Japan, Australia, the Netherlands, France, South Korea, and Italy. The deal doesn't involve any licensing agreement.
- For now, the world's biggest smartphone and tablet OEMs remain at odds in the U.S., but there are signs that battle is also winding down. In June, Apple and Samsung dropped their appeals of an ITC case that led to an injunction on older Samsung phones. The prior month, a CA jury awarded Apple $120M in an infringement suit against Samsung, much less than the $2B it sought.
- Apple settled its patent dispute with Motorola Mobility in May in a deal that didn't feature a cross-license, and agreed to work with Google on "some areas of patent reform." A cross-licensing deal with HTC was struck in 2012.
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