Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Sharp Addresses the “For Sale” Sign Rumor

Posted on by Scott Cullen
I’ve been speaking to a number of dealers over the last couple of weeks and have been asked a number of questions regarding the financial stability of Sharp, as if I would know the answer to that question. Apparently, there’s been a lot of talk circulating, rumors mostly, about what’s going on with the company based on some bleak financial reports out of Japan. Last week when I interviewed Sharp’s Mike Marusic, senior vice president, Marketing & Business Solutions Group, for the article on what “Manufacturers Expect from their Dealers” I mentioned the questions I’d been asked and the gist of his response was to quote Mark Twain, “the rumor of my demise has been greatly exaggerated” and that any financial issues are related to what’s been happening with Sharp’s LCD business where television sales have taken a big hit in the current worldwide economy.

I wasn’t planning on following up that discussion with an article, but on Friday Mike e-mailed me along with various industry analysts and consultants a letter that Sharp President Doug Albregts sent to SIICA dealers outlining the facts after a news story hit the wires that Sharp was selling off its copier business.

In the e-mail Marusic explains that Sharp remains focused on its office technology and Sharp personnel are currently in Japan engaged in future product planning discussions. “Simply stated, we are focused on standard business activities for copiers,” states Marusic. “While this is not a pleasant period for the copier division to deal with these distractions, they are simply that, a distraction. Our launch of Polaris has been well received and we have met our July and August launch goals.”
He also points out that all articles related to Sharp and its financial issues have been about the LCD business where Sharp along with many other manufacturers has experienced challenges of late. “Previously, those articles touted the business equipment sector of Sharp as a profitable piece of the business that is a valuable to Sharp. Unfortunately, a two paragraph guess has caused a lot of concerns that are unfounded,” adds Marusic.

The following Business Week article shared by Marusic sums up the situation:

Here is the content of the letter that went to SIICA (Sharp Imaging and Information Company of America) dealers that will hopefully quell a lot of those rumors.

Dear SIICA Dealers:
As many of you have recently read, Sharp Corporation is in the process of revitalizing our operations in order to be more competitive. While this process takes time, we are moving aggressively to position ourselves for future growth. However, during this period, there is often speculation about what we are going to do. While much of this has centered on other aspects of Sharp’s portfolio, a recent article appeared claiming Sharp was selling its copier business. I want to end any confusion or concerns you may have.
Let us be very clear:
  1. Nikkei has released an article based on their own judgment, and the article is speculation. Sharp Corporation has not released nor acknowledged this article.
  2. Sharp Corporation is under the process of revitalizing its business and is exploring all options to improve the financial condition of the company.
  3. Sharp is not currently negotiating the sale of the businesses, such as Copier and Air-Conditioner that Nikkei has reported in their article.
It is important for you to know that these are the words of our Executive Management in Japan, not simply the opinion of local management. As you can imagine, a public company such as Sharp must be careful not to mislead any investors so they are cautious with their statements. However, the third point is what is most important for all of us.

As pointed out in numerous articles in the past few weeks, Sharp’s document business is profitable and we are in the process of launching some of our most innovative products and services for our dealer community.

We cannot control the speculation of the press and we cannot control competitors trying to take advantage of the dealer community. However, the SIICA team will continue to provide you with our support and outstanding products.

And that’s where this story and the rumors end.