As the parade of quarterly financial reports continues to emerge, the electronics industry is feeling the whiplash of contradictory results that offer "hope" but no guarantees going into the critical holiday selling season. In the coming days, we'll hear from Motorola on Thursday, Oct. 29 and Sony on Friday, October 30. While Wall Street is already declaring victory because overall third-quarter tech sector results so far have "exceeded expectations," others are taking a more measured attitude, based on the inconsistency of figures emerging from the retailing and electronics industries.
Monday's report from Radio Shack that its third-quarter revenue fell by just over $10 million compared to a year earlier, represented a same-store sales decline of 2.9%. Retailers such as Target, Macy's and J.C. Penney all reported smaller-than-expected year-over-year quarterly sales declines. In the tech sector, Intel reported better results and raised guidance for the fourth quarter, fueled by chips it makes for mobile devices. Apple's stunning report - the second highest quarterly revenue in the company's history - adds to expectations for the mobile sector. Yet the breath-taking quarterly loss at Nokia - $836 million, revealed earlier this month - underscores the fragility in the industry, or at least of some companies.
Netflix's third-quarter sales were up 24% and its subscriber base jumped by 28%. At the same time, NCR, which operates the Blockbuster Express kiosks, saw a 79% third-quarter net income drop compared to the comparable 2008 period. To be fair, NCR's core business machines and ATM business was affected by its banking and financial industry relationships, too.