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Cash-Poor Sharp Mortgages Display Factories 111

Posted by timothy
from the surely-they-can-reach-a-resolution dept.
Sharp is one of the small handful of companies that actually make the LCDs that go into products badged with many other companies' names. Now, itwbennett writes "The company was asked by one of its main banks to put its physical assets, including its Apple screen plant, up as collateral for about $2 billion in emergency loans, according to an IDG News Service report. Sharp expects to lose over $3 billion this fiscal year."
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Cash-Poor Sharp Mortgages Display Factories

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Sharp makes amazing screens why are they in trouble? What did I miss?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      It's possible to make awesome products and have poor business plans. See Sun Microsystems.

      • Or Commodore.
        • Re:Wha? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by 6031769 (829845) on Thursday September 06, 2012 @12:50PM (#41249841) Homepage Journal

          Or DEC. Or Silicon Graphics.

          Actually, it's starting to look like quality of products is always inversely proportional to quality of directors/management. If that isn't somebody's first law of economics, I'm claiming it.

          • by RatBastard (949)

            Remember Everex computers? Nice PCs. Horrible management.

          • by Taco Cowboy (5327)

            Actually, it's starting to look like quality of products is always inversely proportional to quality of directors/management.

            Actually, it's the way the Japanese run their business.

            If business is good, the Japanese model can go on forever, but when the market turns south, or when competition turns fierce, the Japanese business almost always jerks to a halt

            It happens to many Japanese businesses, not only Sharp.

            For example, Toyota

            It makes good car, but the way they made their car is akin to a "family business" where one make the spoke, the other the hub, the other the shaft, the other the belt, and so

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        It's possible to make awesome products and have poor business plans. See Sun Microsystems.

        Arrgh. What you say is true, but inaccurate.

        SUN made great products, but their business plan was poor because there wasn't enough of a market for their awesome products to support a viable firm. (I hope that makes sense. My brain has been poluted by a MBA - the most worthless fucking thing I ever did with my time and money.)

        Build a better mousetrap and people will beat a path to your door. Not so.

        I have a cat that does the samething for less and I can pet it and it's cute and everything.

        SUN got it's ass

        • Sun also died because they had an enormous sales force, vastly overpriced hardware, and option pricing that made Apple's ram and drive prices seem budget grade.

          If Sun had moved to a more reasonable plan, without armies of sales reps and such between you and the products that you want to buy, if they hadn't stuck with their laughable CDE, and such, they'd probably still be going today.

    • Re:Wha? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ackthpt (218170) on Thursday September 06, 2012 @12:39PM (#41249665) Homepage Journal

      Sharp makes amazing screens why are they in trouble? What did I miss?

      Just because you make a fantistic bunch of hardware doesn't mean you can't have a load of bozos running around the board room with seltzer bottles in one hand and balloons in the other. Remember how bad Commodore was at marketing the Amiga? Ready ... FIRE! Aim ...

    • by guidryp (702488) on Thursday September 06, 2012 @12:46PM (#41249769)

      When I was checking out TVs, I quickly marked Sharp off my list. IMO their panels have the worse viewing angle washout of any of the panel types and no real compensating high point (Yellow pixels are more gimmick than benefit).

      I see lots of talk from Sharp, but I have never seen a Sharp screen I want to buy, so no great loss IMO.

      • This is pretty stupid, because they probably make the actual screen in the TV you actually bought.
        • by guidryp (702488)

          No. Sharp actually makes the screens in relatively few TVs. My TV has a AU Optronics panel.

      • by wmbetts (1306001)

        I have a Sharp in my front room and I have to disagree with you on the viewing angles. I have no issues with side viewing.

      • by jp10558 (748604)

        If you care mostly about viewing angle (vs, IDK, sitting in front of the TV you want to watch), then this may be useful. But there are many axis of quality, and when I went shopping for TVs for the first time after 18 years about 2 years ago, the Quattron had by far the best color quality, look, and subjective fulid motion of LCDs. It was almost as good in store displays as many plasmas, without the price premium (at the time, in my local stores).

        I was and remain quite impressed with the video quality and u

    • by magarity (164372)

      Sharp makes amazing screens why are they in trouble? What did I miss?

      From Sharp minds come Dull financial planning?

    • Price Wars (Score:4, Insightful)

      by alexander_686 (957440) on Thursday September 06, 2012 @12:57PM (#41249947)

      The LCD screen market has been brutal for the past couple of years. Plants have high fixed capital costs. i.e. building plants are expensive. The market has surplus capacity. i.e. everybody thought people would be buying their screens. In this situation, if the plant is running you might as well run it at full throttle – it is almost as cheap to build 100 rather than 80. This leaves a company with 2 choices.

      First, you can shut down the factory and leave all of the capital ideal. Even worse, with the technology cycle so fast, when you restart the plant it is going to be obsolete.

      Second, you can engage in a long drawn out price war. Unfortunately Sharp is facing Samsung who has the same problem – overcapacity – but have deep better diversified pockets to survive the price war. The second option is better – you bleed slower.

      If you want an analogy, take a look at the airlines. The price wars have been so brutal that, IIRC, the total return on equity invested in airlines (as a whole) is about 0% for the past 50 years.

    • Re:Wha? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Spy Handler (822350) on Thursday September 06, 2012 @01:19PM (#41250313) Homepage Journal

      They got hit by a double whammy. Foreign exchange rates on one hand, and more nimble Korean competition on the other.

      Strong Yen eroded their profits, while at the same time Samsung and LG made huge aggressive bets by pouring billions into new LCD and LED making equipment and benefited from economy of scale. Basically the Koreans are doing to the Japanese companies what the Japanese themselves were doing to American companies back in the 70's.

      Samsung makes a healthy profit from TVs, while Sony and Sharp loses money on every TV they make.

    • by crazyjj (2598719) *

      What did I miss?

      The fact that the LCD market is saturated right now. LCD's were hot for several years as everyone threw out their old tube TV's for shiny new HDTV's. But now those same people stubbornly insist on keeping those shiny HDTV's for years instead of upgrading every time some shiny new feature (like 3D) comes out.

    • the market is saturated. major players like Philips have basically handed over their factories to get out from under the pressure years ago. we're left with Sharp, Samsung, Mitsubishi (Panasonic,) and several Red Army Factions.

      just like there used to be a dozen CRT plants in the US alone, dwindled to channel master and Sony, and they're all closed. Clinton is closed in China. there may not be a working CRT plant left any more, anywhere.

      and as the complexity and demand for higher grade screens rises, it'

    • by hairyfeet (841228)

      Because they had their fingers in too many pies instead of keeping to what they did great, which was screens? Time and time again we've seen good companies that made great products get run into the ground by shitty management, hell I'd say that's what happening to MSFT now with their "lost decade" and counting, and they had a fricking monopoly for the love of Pete and the sweaty monkey couldn't capitalize. In the case of Sharp they had everything from mobile phones to microwaves,photocopiers to PDAs. They j

    • by jvillain (546827)

      Every body built out their production for the HDTV migration. Now that it is over demand is down. 3D was supposed to be the great saviour but not so much. Turns out people want to match movies on 4" screens and you can get a lot of those out of a 120" sheet. There was also that little tsunami thing as well.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    My Aquos TV (with its added yellow pixel) ruins movies by having sufficiently vibrant color to make the demarcation between green-screen and foreground characters completely obvious. Make-up too looks far less natural and more like Broadway stage makeup. The pressure for the movie industry to bring up their game will decrease significantly with these folk out of the picture.

    • I would actually rather not have an unnaturally vibrant screen. I want a screen that shows me exactly what the director intended the picture to look like.

      • by swb (14022)

        I wonder how many directors actually do any more than give some vague description of the look (bright, dark, grey, etc) they want and then the army of people including production designers, cinematographers, colorists, and so on do a little something which isn't even evident until maybe after a working print of whatever scene is being shot is struck if its shot on film.

        I'll bet a lot of director color schemes these days get applied via post-processing anymore.

    • Did you take the time to calibrate your TV?

      Makes an INCREDIBLE difference in the picture quality.

    • Make-up too looks far less natural and more like Broadway stage makeup.

      Go visit a studio, and you will find they damn near have to put Bondo on their faces to cover up the flaws. During the black and white days, they used green makeup so the actors wouldn't look so pale and would stand out better from the background. It looks far from 'natural'. I would say you just saw a more accurate picture of what they really look like.

    • by guidryp (702488) on Thursday September 06, 2012 @12:58PM (#41249951)

      That's not a feature, it is a glitch is Sharps Color processing.

      http://www.hdtvtest.co.uk/news/sharp-lc46le821e-lc40le821e-20100628755.htm [hdtvtest.co.uk]

      Unfortunately, we were soon to uncover a much more severe colour error which made our previous fears of oversaturated Yellows look truly trivial.

      The first sign that the Sharp LC46LE821E had colour problems that went beyond it’s expanded colour gamut became apparent with test patterns, and later with real-world content. The edges of saturated colours — especially reds — would appear thresholded, having a strange “tizzing” effect. In fact, this anomaly almost looked like a modern-day cousin of the dot crawl we all hated in old-fashioned Composite video systems.

      Near the beginning of Chapter 6 on the UK Blu-ray Disc release of “The Hurt Locker”, there is a shot of a off-cyan sky which is covered in a pleasing amount of film grain (this material originates on 16mm film). On the Sharp LC46LE821E, even without using its Colour Management controls (that is, using the company’s recommended “Movie” mode settings), the sky showed visible darker blocks dancing around in it. And in the next shot, what once appeared as one smooth sky was divided into two distinct bands. This is very surprising indeed, because Sharp has publically stated that one of the benefits of their Quattron technology is to provide smoother gradations.

      Remembering that there were strange artefacts in areas of highly saturated colour, we pulled out the Blu-ray Disc of “Serenity” and skipped to Chapter 6, which features a vividly coloured, impressively lit neon city scene. Here, the Sharp LC46LE821E made a complete mess of the coloured transitions, and created obvious borders around tones which, on any other TV, would appear smooth and natural. The Sharp LC46LE821E created harsh borders around the actors, and in fact, the effect is akin to a poorly-done “green screen” effect with a fuzzy edge. The effect is best illustrated with pictures:

    • "Movies looked great on my old TV, but terrible on my new TV. This can only be Hollywood's fault!"

      That's an...interesting perspective. Kudos to Aquos' marketing team, though.

    • I said it ever since they announced their quad pixel technology that it would simply create more problems than it fixed and/or was a marketing gimmick. The colors are either being properly represented by the panel, or they are not. Adding a fourth color pixel to the panel will not make things better unless the panel without that pixel can not display the correct color gamut in the first place. The additional image processing required to take signals that are written in a RGB format and convert them to RGBY
  • by LehiNephi (695428) on Thursday September 06, 2012 @12:40PM (#41249677) Journal
    If the title of this post isn't reason enough to reform the English language, I don't know what is. At first I though it had something to do with homeowners refinancing.

    Cash-Poor (adj) Sharp (adj/noun) Mortgages (verb/noun) Display (verb/adj/noun) Factories (noun)
  • wtf? (Score:5, Funny)

    by shadowrat (1069614) on Thursday September 06, 2012 @12:44PM (#41249739)
    Indigenous Rainbow Spatulas Dungeon Ponies.
    • by serbanp (139486)

      Yeah, the title took a while to sink in, but your example is rather poor, as none of the words can be a verb.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        I will spatula you for your insolence!

      • by game kid (805301)

        What do you mean you can't Dungeon a Pony?

        Damn...now that I think about that, I want a Dungeon Pony. It sounds like they'd look the same as regular ponies, except that they'd have pitch-black hair, wear collars that menace with spikes of the bones of trolls they trampled to death (and jackets made of the skin of their own dead cousins), and just walk around with a serious face like the hardboiled badasses they are.

        My Ruthless Pony: Friendship is a Bad Mother Fucker.

      • by bosef1 (208943)

        I have proposed we use the infinitive verb "to spatulate" to describe the thing that is done with a spatula. For example, "After adding eggs to the flour, you will need to spatulate". Or, "I've been spatulating all day, and wow my arm is tired."

    • Indigenous Rainbow Spatulas Dungeon Ponies.

      Wow, that does sound serious; I better RTFA.

    • by Jesus_666 (702802)
      I find it amusing that your line immediately caused a coherent image to form in my mind* while I took half a minute to parse the story's headline (and initially did it the wrong way).

      * I think that the combination of Rainbow Dash, spatulas and BDSM is weird but hey, so is the thought of mortgages displaying factories...
    • by P-niiice (1703362)
      Effective McDonald's Shakes Industry Leaders
  • So in the future they'll have interest payments to meet in addition to their other factor costs for creating displays.

    In the short term, they can continue to meet whatever short-term debt obligations they have. (Bonus question: What are likely to be their short term debt obligations?)

    In the long term...who knows? Their future ability to pay appears less secure.

    • by Immerman (2627577)

      More importantly - the company will continue to be able to pay the CEO and Board their expected bonuses while it gradually bleeds to death and hopes that the LCD market will pick up again.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Now they won't be able to build houses/hotels or collect rent!

  • Question... (Score:5, Funny)

    by PortHaven (242123) on Thursday September 06, 2012 @12:55PM (#41249905) Homepage

    What are "Sharp Mortgages", and what caused them to be cash-poor. Is this part of the toxic asset relief program. Apparently, they're displaying their factories. So mayb these were commercial loans for industry used to build factories...

    Hmm....

    Anglish!

    • by Misagon (1135)

      They are sharp enough to be able to know how to use money, but they are apparently not sharp enough to spend it wisely.

  • Cash-Poor Sharp Mortgages Display Factories

    I've heard of a lot of mortgage companies, but not "Sharp Mortgages."

    And what do they need factories for, and why are they displaying them?

    Oh, I get it, they need cash and hope the buzz will attract investors.

    Oh, and it's "Displays" not "Display." Unless I'm reading it wrong and there are a bunch of starving but very bright mortgages out there which are showing off their factories, in which case I apologize.

    Hmm, this could be the next correct horse battery staple. I hope this isn't Mr. Okuda's [wikipedia.org] password.

    • by psmears (629712)

      Oh, and it's "Displays" not "Display."

      Really? I'm not sure that's an improvement...

    • by neminem (561346)

      No, there are multiple Sharp Mortgages, and they're all competing to display the best factories.

      Actually, I had an even worse time of it, as I started off by reading -Sharp- as the primary verb, as in "to cheat", so I was like... cash-poor people sharp their mortgages... what?

  • With the rumors of an Apple TV odds are Sharp is already a fabrication partner on that project. Apple could buy the plant and transition other product assembly away from Foxconn. I'm sure Japan would love to see the jobs come over from China.

  • by jd2112 (1535857) on Thursday September 06, 2012 @01:25PM (#41250415)
    If Sharp goes under the may have to go to Samsung for displays. I'm sure they would do it but there will be an extra $1B charge tacked in somewhere...
    • by tlhIngan (30335)

      If Sharp goes under the may have to go to Samsung for displays. I'm sure they would do it but there will be an extra $1B charge tacked in somewhere...

      Samsung only makes AMOLED displays (they got rid of their LCD division). There are plenty of others who make LCDs - LG and Hitachi are the bigger ones, but there are various smaller ones as well.

      Though, I'm surprised Apple didn't take it as an opportunity to invest in Sharp, perhaps doing it as a joint venture. Apple's been investing heavily in display techno

  • by zlexiss (14056) on Thursday September 06, 2012 @01:25PM (#41250421)

    This just a few months after settling for $200 million in an LCD price fixing suit. Guess they were counting on keeping those artificially high prices going to break even.

  • Isn't it just a rumor that Sharp will be making iPhone screens. AFAIK, there are no sharp screens in any shipping Apple product.

    Desktops use LG IPS screens. iPhone 4s uses LG IPS screens. iPad 1/2 use LG IPS screens. iPad 3 uses Samsung PLS(their version of IPS) screens.

    Sharp??

  • How is this news? A company obtaining finance and giving their bank good security is normal practice in business. If anything is weird here it is that Sharp does not already have these assets securing loans. The tone gives me the impression this is meant to be bad news for Sharp, but there is no clue why in the summary.

    Reading TFA, it seems the story here is that Sharp is in deep financial trouble, but the good news is that they have been able to refinance, thus answering Moody's recent concerns. The partic

    • by 0123456 (636235)

      The tone gives me the impression this is meant to be bad news for Sharp, but there is no clue why in the summary.

      Phew. So (per the summary) having to mortgage your factories to raise $2 billion in emergency funds when you're looking at a $3 billion+ loss isn't bad news.

  • I wonder, though, if AAPL shares might be affected by it. I need to check if Apple seems to have second-sources for their display tech. The Sharp plant suddenly looks like a lost case in the long run.

  • Sharp's main issues (Score:5, Informative)

    by MasaMuneCyrus (779918) on Thursday September 06, 2012 @04:21PM (#41253039)

    For those that don't know, Sharp recently built their tenth-generation glass substrate and LCD factory in Sakai, Japan [google.com]. This is, bar-none, the most advanced, efficient, and green LCD manufacturing facility in the world. To further lower costs, their main suppliers moved their factories just next door to the Sakai plant.

    When Sharp first made this plant, it seemed like Japan would come to dominate the LCD industry, again. Sharp had deals with all the major LCD players to manufacture parts for them to use in their own brands. Notably, SONY was a huge investor in the Sakai facility. The Sakai plant was going to produce the best LCD TV components, and SONY has a long history of using top-of-the-line components in their products.

    Sharp has fallen on hard times because of two primary issues:
    1. The economy, stupid
    2. The inexplicable and dramatic rise of the yen

    When Sharp first made the facility, it made it big, and it expected big demand. BOOM! global economic meltdown. That seriously hurt Sharp, but at least they still had their deals with other companies to buy their industry-best components. Well, a consequence of the meltdown, quantitative easing, uncertainty, etc, is that the Japanese yen has skyrocketed in value.

    I studied abroad in Japan from 2007-2008. At that time, I got about 121 yen per USD. Now the rate is half that. That means Made in Japan is 50% more expensive in the US (and most everywhere else) than it was, before. This is what is killing Sharp. This is what is killing all Japanese manufacturers. Modern Japan developed as an export economy, and with the yen as strong as it is, it is struggling to export. Many of their industries are diversified; for example, Honda has the ability to manufacture the same Honda Civic in Japan or the US, then ship it to whichever country it wants to sell it in depending on the exchange rates. Sharp has put all its eggs in the Made in Japan basket (not a bad decision at the time; I would certainly prefer a Made in Japan TV for a small premium, and I know others would, too), and now that basket is way too expensive to compete.

    Unless the yen weakens, Sharp will fail. If they fail, somebody is going to take over the Sakai factory, because it is just too new, too advanced, and too efficient to let disappear.

    • Samsung is spinning off their LCD division [wsj.com] to concentrate on OLED. It is a really bad time to invest in low margin LCD factories.
    • by jrumney (197329)
      Sharp pretends to put all its eggs in the "made in Japan" basket, by highlighting their factories in Japan on the webpage, but if you dig deep enough, you'll find the page where they list all their global factories (Poland, Mexico, China, Thailand, Malaysia, Philippines) just like any other major Japanese electronics company.
    • The strong yen is *somewhat* explainable, but not to the level it is currently at. Japan, although it has a very large debt to GDP ratio(something like 2.2, the highest in the developed world), does have a very high rate of personal savings and thus a lot of people considered it "safe" and sold "riskier" dollars and euro to buy yen, causing it to rise slightly and thanks to algo traders and crazy margin buyers that rise got out of control.... The fundamentals do not support the yen at this level

      The yen w
  • They should sue Samsung. They make rectangular LCDs as well.

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