Skip to comments.Nine Great American Companies that will never recover
Posted on 08/05/2012 2:27:21 PM PDT by SeekAndFind
Many American companies have been lauded for their rapid rise to greatness, a process that sometimes takes less than a decade. These firms become leaders in their industries, are renowned for innovation, phenomenal growth, and, in the case of public corporations, their soaring share prices. Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG) usually makes the list, as does Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL). At the other end of the scale are well-known firms that are so crippled they go bankrupt or disappear entirely.
Recently, these have included AMR, the parent of American Airlines, Borders, and Eastman Kodak.
Somewhere in the middle between the companies that do phenomenally well and those that fail are ones that were once leaders in their industries but have fallen hopelessly behind. They may remain in business for years or even decades after their best days. Their executives struggle to find better strategies, and often their boards seek new management. But, in the case of companies that fall permanently into trouble and well behind the leaders in their industries, the chance of a turnaround has passed. Competitors have taken too much market share, and often have stronger balance sheets. Or, their products and services are no longer in demand because of changes in the overall economy or the sectors in which they operate.
To compile a list of names that were once leaders in their industries, but are no longer and likely will never be again, 24/7 Wall St. looked at companies that have lost most of their market share, suffered sharp share price erosion, and posted a sharp drop in earnings, or even losses. We focused on companies that are included in the S&P 500. Almost all have lost money recently. Each has had a drop in share price of over 50% in the last five years. Each has powerful competitors who have built market share or moats around their businesses that are nearly impossible to overcome.
1. J.C. Penney Company Inc. (NYSE: JCP)
Ads by Google Merrill Edge® Trading Start Trading Today. 30 $0 Online Trades Per Month & No Annual Fee. www.MerrillEdge.com J.C. Penney, founded in 1913, counted itself among the primary retailers and catalog companies in the US for decades. But under CEO Myron Ullman III, who took over in 2004, its revenue began to slide, dropping from $19.9 billion in 2007 to $17.3 billion in 2011. Earnings fell from $1.1 billion to a loss of $152 million in the same period. J.C. Penneys share price has fallen 70% in five years. By way of contrast, the shares of Macys Inc. (NYSE: M) and Target Corp. (NYSE: TGT) two direct competitors have been essentially flat over the same period. Penney was challenged by these two companies and several others, including Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT) and Costco Wholesale Corp. (NASDAQ: COST). Problems became so severe that J.C. Penney closed its formerly successful catalog business and reached outside for a new CEO. The boards choice was Apple Retail Chief Ron Johnson, who was picked in June 2011. Johnson changed the companys pricing structure, but the reaction was so poor that revenue dropped an extraordinary 20.1% to $3.2 billion in the first fiscal quarter. J.C. Penney posted a loss of $163 million. Internet sales, so essential in a world in which Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) has become a significant presence, fell 27.9% to $271 million. By contrast, Macys total sales, combining online and those made in stores, rose 4.3% to $6.1 billion in the last reported quarter. And Macys is hardly J.C. Penneys largest competitor by revenue or workforce. Walmarts sales were $450 billion last year, while Costcos were $89 billion.
2. The New York Times Co. (NYSE: NYT)
The New York Times is, and has been for decades, the premier daily newspaper company in the US. But the company has been shrinking rapidly. Ten years ago, The New York Times Company made $300 million on revenue of $3.1 billion. Last year it lost $40 million on revenue of $2.3 billion. The New York Times did not move online fast enough to offset the rapid erosion of print advertising. Its tardiness allowed it to be challenged on the Internet by properties like The Huffington Post, Google News, and the news, sports, and financial properties of portals MSN, AOL, and Yahoo!. As an indication of how the stock market measures the value of The New York Times Company, its market cap is $1.2 billion against its revenue of $2.3 billion in 2011. Low-brow content aggregator Demand Media has a market capitalization of $865 million against 2011 revenue of $325 million. Demand lost $13 million last year. The reason the market values of the two companies are so close? The Times still relies on the dying print business for the lions share of its revenue. Its market cap and cash balance are too low to allow it to more aggressively move to the internet or buy large online properties. In the last quarter, The Times revenue was roughly flat at $515 million. The company lost 57 cents a share compared with a profit of 5 cents a share in the same period last year. The worst news from the quarter was that Digital advertising revenues at the News Media Group decreased 1.6 percent to $52.6 million from $53.5 million mainly due to declines in national display and real estate classified advertising revenues. The Times did make advances in online paid subscriptions, but circulation revenue barely offset the drop in advertising sales. At the heart of The New York Times uniqueness among American newspapers is the quality of its editorial content. The company has held the line on retaining its large editorial staff. It did lay off 100 people in 2009, which was about 8% of the news staff. The industry is in the midst of another wave of job cuts. The Times has not been able to show significant top-line growth, even with its digital subscription efforts. Print is in too much of a shambles for the company to shore itself up in the digital world.
3. Groupon Inc. (NASDAQ: GRPN)
Groupon is an unlikely candidate for a list of companies that have their best years behind them. One reason Groupon belongs on this list is its stock price has fallen by well over 70% since its November 2011 IPO. Groupons primary problem is that the online coupon business, in which it was the major pioneer, is a commodity business now. It has not been terribly difficult for Amazon and other large retailers like Walmart to enter the sector. Groupon was the most significant player in its industry after beginning operations in 2009, when it posted revenue of only $15 million. That number rose to over $1.6 billion last year, but Groupon paid dearly for that growth. The company lost $675 million over that same two-year period before interest and taxes. Groupons revenue grew 89% to $559 million in the most recently reported quarter. But expansion continued to come at a cost. Groupons bottom line grew from a loss of $12 million in the same quarter last year to one of $147 million. Groupons new competitors replicated most of its tactics very quickly. LivingSocial, the rival most like Groupon in terms of its business model, had 7.2 million unique visitors last year to Groupons 11 million, according to online industry research firm Comscore. LivingSocial has financial support from Amazon. Google has entered the sector with a product called Google Offers. Well-regarded industry website VentureBeat lists 33 direct competitors to Groupon, and none is a large corporation. The Chicago Sun-Times, one of the two daily papers in the city where Groupon is headquartered, summed up Groupons difficult challenges, Groupon has been weighed down by high marketing and staffing costs and faces increasing competition from the likes of Amazon.com and Living Social, among hundreds of other local deals sites. Even the hometown press has nothing positive to say about the company.
4. Sprint Nextel Corp. (NYSE: S)
Ads by Google Nexus 7 from Google The new Android tablet, made for Google Play. Buy for $199! play.google.com Sprint finally posted some reasonably good results recently. However, these could not mask the fact that the No. 3 wireless carrier is too small to ever gain any ground on AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) and Verizon Wireless. Sprints revenue rose rapidly from 2002 to 2006. Over the period, sales moved from $15.2 billion to $41 billion, aided by the buyout of Nextel at the end of 2004. Sprint paid $35 billion for Nextel, and the decision turned out to be a disaster. The Sprint network ran on a different platform from Nextels. Customers left the combined company. Sprint made the MSN Customer Service Hall of Shame several times, most recently in 2010. Sprints customer service ratings have improved significantly since then, but the damage has been done. While AT&T and Verizon Wireless have grown rapidly, Sprints revenue has fallen from $41.1 billion in 2007 to $33.7 billion last year. Sprints cumulative loss during that period was over $43 billion. Sprint now has about 50 million subscribers to Verizons 104 million and AT&Ts 95 million. As a Morningstar researcher recently noted, While Sprint has struggled, Verizon Wireless and AT&T have benefited at its expense. Fending off these much larger rivals will be increasingly difficult as data services become more important to the industry.
5. Barnes & Noble Inc. (NYSE: BKS)
The cause of Barnes & Nobles downfall can be described in a word Amazon. In 2002, Barnes & Noble made $109 million on sales of $4.9 billion. That same year, Amazon lost $149 million on revenue of $3.9 billion. Fast forward to 2011 when Amazons revenue reached $48.1 billion and it earned $631 million. Barnes & Noble lost $69 million on $7.1 billion last year. Amazon may sell consumer electronics equipment and internet streaming video products, but at its heart it is still the worlds largest bookstore. The highlight of Amazons recent quarter, in which revenue rose 29% to $12.8 billion, was that Kindle Fire remains the No. 1 bestselling product across the millions of items available on Amazon.com since launch. The product most visibly promoted on the Amazon.com home page? The Kindle. Barnes & Nobles legacy business is huge and expensive. As of its April proxy filing, the company operated 1,338 bookstores in 50 states, including 647 bookstores on college campuses. Obviously those stores require inventory, rent and personnel. And Barnes & Noble mentions the maturity of the market for traditional retail stores as one of the risk factors in its SEC filings. Is it any wonder that in its last fiscal year, Barnes & Noble had retail sales of $4.86 billion? That part of the companys business shrank by 2%. Its Nook segment, which encompasses the digital business (including readers, digital content and accessories) had revenue of only $933 million. Digital sales rose 34% over the previous year, but remain a very modest portion of sales. Barnes & Nobles digital division is vulnerable. That is particularly clear when the market share of its Nook e-reader is taken into account. The Nooks share of the US market is 27%, in contrast to a 60% share for Amazons Kindle and 10% for Apple, according to Reuters. Barnes & Noble is hopelessly outgunned online, and the retail book business has leveled off.
6. Zynga Inc. (NASDAQ: ZNGA)
Zynga, the premier social network game company, is another name that by all rights should not be on our list. Zyngas revenue rose from $19.4 million in 2008 to $1.14 billion last year. Zynga spent plenty of money to reach the top position in its industry, and last year lost $404 million. Investors were drawn to the company because it had been effectively piggy-backing free and premium games onto the Facebook platform, which currently has nearly one billion members. The success of the model appeared astonishing. In its last reported quarter, Zynga says it had 192 million monthly unique users, up 27% from the same quarter a year before. But, as the total number of virtual games has grown, the cost to maintain a lead has become almost prohibitive. Zynga lost $23 million last quarter on revenue of $332 million. In the same quarter a year ago, Zynga made $1 million on revenue of $279 million. Zyngas growth rate is no longer impressive. And, the problems it faces apparently will worsen soon. The company recently lowered its outlook to reflect delays in launching new games, a faster decline in existing Web games due in part to a more challenging environment on the Facebook web platform, and reduced expectations for Draw Something. This bad news pushed Zyngas shares to $3, down from a post-IPO high of $15.91. Zyngas problems are more complex and more permanent than delayed games or lower returns on its Facebook presence. The game market is becoming more fragmented by the day as games migrate from consoles to PCs to tablets and smartphones. Social media is not the only place that game players gather in great numbers. Many of the most downloaded apps at the Apple App store are games. The same is true of the Google app store. Zyngas insurmountable challenge was summed up by its CEO Mark Pincus on the companys recent earnings call. He said, We think social gaming is just starting to grow quickly on mobile and we think it has the potential to be the most important part of the experience on mobile and an even bigger business in the future. Despite his vision of the future, Zyngas shares are in the rubble. The reason, GameIndustry International reports is that Apple iOS and latterly Android have become the dominant platforms for growth in social gaming (not necessarily for social gaming itself, but all the growth is on mobile, not on the web) Zynga has been overwhelmed by hordes of new challengers.
7. Dell Inc. (NASDAQ: DELL)
Ads by Google 10 Best Credit Cards Compare Credit Cards with 0% APR. Lock-in 0% APR for 18 Months Today! www.comparecards.com Dell is being hammered by the smartphone and tablet PC sectors. This is not long after its prospects were damaged by poor management decisions and the rise of Asian manufacturers, which has taken significant market share from the company. Dell was one of the companies that capitalized on the creation of the IBM PC platform. Among the others were Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ), Compaq, and Gateway. International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE: IBM) exited the business when it sold its PC operations to China-based Lenovo in late 2004. After that, the PC industry went through two sets of transformations. One was consolidation: HP bought Compaq and Acer bought Gateway. The other was the emergence of large Asian PC businesses Acer, Asus and Lenovo. All of these companies, Asian and American, face a substantial challenge today. PCs are viewed as commodities, which has put pressure on prices. Computing has moved quickly to smartphones and tablets. Dell made another substantial mistake. As its share of the global PC market has fallen, it has not aggressively followed the successful model adopted by IBM. IBM built a $100 billion business offering consulting, software, IT support, hardware and financing. It does not rely heavily on a single offering. Dells reliance on PC sales has continued to sting, particularly now that the PC era has given way to one dominated by smartphones.
8. Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (NYSE: AMD)
AMDs latest quarterly report shows just how bad off the company is. Year-over-year revenue fell 10% to $1.4 billion. Non-GAAP net income fell from $70 million to $46 million. AMD was Intel Corp.s (NASDAQ: INTC) most direct competitor five years ago, and held about 24% of the server and PC chip market in 2007. Last year, its market share fell to 19%. But that is not AMDs single greatest problem. The company bought graphic chip maker ATI in 2006 for $5.4 billion. PC makers had begun to add more of these chips to their machines. AMD needed to keep pace with rival Intel and graphic chip maker Nvidia Corp. (NASDAQ: NVDA) The main result of the ATI transaction was that it saddled AMD with an unsustainable debt and did almost nothing to help AMDs fortunes. AMD had revenue of $6 billion in 2007, while Intels was $38.3 billion. Last year, AMDs revenue rose to only $6.6 billion, while Intels soared to $54 billion during the same period. AMD has had three CEOs in the last five years, as it struggled to find a strategy for growth. The companys greatest challenge may lie ahead as much of the personal computing market moves to tablets and smartphones. The chip used in the Apple iPad was designed by Apple, and made by Samsung. The Apple iPhone 5 will probably be powered by a quad core processor made by Samsung, the same chip used in the Samsung Galaxy S III. The other primary designers of the current generation of chips are Qualcomm Inc. (NASDAQ: QCOM) and ARM Holdings PLC (NASDAQ: ARMH). AMDs products are almost nowhere to be found in this latest generation of portable devices.
9. Bank of America Corp. (NYSE: BAC)
Most of the operations that constitute Bank of America today were created through a series of mergers and buyouts, including the acquisition of FleetBoston in 2003 and credit card giant MBNA in 2005. These and other deals were engineered by Ken Lewis, who became CEO in 2001. By 2007, he had succeeded in making Bank of America the largest bank in the US by deposits. But Lewis became overzealous as he tried to make the bank even larger. As the financial system was heading toward near-collapse, Bank of America bought crippled mortgage bank Countrywide Financial in January 2008 and deeply troubled investment bank Merrill Lynch in September of that year. Bank of Americas financial troubles multiplied so rapidly that it was forced to take much more TARP money than most other large US banks $45 billion. Lewiss risk-taking eventually was part of the reason the federal government pressed the bank to add outside directors who had been regulators or heads of successful banks. In June 2009, four new directors were appointed, including a former member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and a former chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. Lewis was out by the end of the year, and Brian Moynihan replaced him. But Moynihans tenure has been even more disastrous than Lewiss. JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM) passed B of A in assets to become the largest bank in the US. Crippling losses caused B of A to announce it would cut more than 30,000 jobs. In late 2011, a $50 billion class action suit was filed against B of A based on the lack of disclosures made when it bought Merrill Lynch. Bank of America has also been the target of several mortgage fraud suits, and entered into a settlement which cost it and four other large US banks a combined $25 billion. B of A still faces legal and balance sheet problems, which may force it to raise tens of billions of dollars. This will undermine the share price. The final and most difficult challenge is its exposure to the US real estate market, which is unparalleled among its peers. This, in addition to the unhealed scars from poor management and the global financial collapse, have left Bank of America limping along.
Seems like most of these companies have embraced a librul outlook to politics.
Well, I’ll miss Barnes & Noble. Other than that....
NYT great??? Not so much.
NYT great??? Not so much.
Knowingly selling laptops that had a tendency to catch fire and telling the customer it was HIS fault didn't help much - I'll never buy from these schmucks again...
I am surprised to see Sprint on this list, and claiming that Sprint had poor service. I am a Sprint customer (business account), and my bad experience had been with ATT - a corporation that is even worse on having zampolits in the office, and really deserves to expire.
“At the heart of The New York Times uniqueness among American newspapers is the quality of its editorial content. The company has held the line on retaining its large editorial staff.”
Yeah, gotta keep shoveling that agitprop out - facts be damned...
If Dell (who bought Perot systems) is on there, even moreso should be HP, which bought Perot’s earlier company. They have parallel business models and business plans.
And there is a surprising omission of the biggest recent FAIL of all, Facebook.
When the hell were Groupon, Zynga, or AMD great?
Groupon was a great American Co?
add Sears to that.
The other companies on the list...well, I guess they aren't so "Great" after all.
I thought some of these already were gone. Penny’s has closed down all their stores here in the past couple of years, and Sprint Nextel is gone. Bank of America left a long time ago—it shut down its branches here rather than be forced to make loser CRA mortgages in this community. Sears has announced its going out of business here in the spring of 2013.
It’s the circle of life. I was going to post that at least these companies are not getting bailed out, but oops, there is Bank of America there.
Why isn’t the Obama/Biden Administration on this list? All their subsidiaries are failures - Solyndra, GM, Acorn. The corporate balance sheet is nothing but red ink as far as the eye can see. There’s no business model that turns a profit. Staffing is bloated with deadwood in departments like Education, Energy, HUD, the EPA, etc. The company is still run along procedural lines established in the 1930’s and the 1960’s and unchanged since.
Time to let this firm go into receivership.
Also important and overlooked is their move to LTE. They won’t have to wait for special phones months after the other biggies because of WiMax. They need to role it out faster and reaslly push their unlimitted and cheaper plans.
“NYT great??? Not so much.”
Well, maybr in the same way that Farrakhan stated that Hitler was great, wickedly great.
There’s a couple of companies on here that are going to make it but for sure there are several who deserve to go down in flames.
Barnes & Noble Inc
The ones not on my list still have very good underlying fundamentals that will keep them going when everyone else burns through their capital.
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