24/7 Wall St. Ten Brands That Will Disappear In 2012

Print Email

1. Sony Pictures

Sony has a studio production arm which has nothing to do with its core businesses of consumer electronics and gaming. Sony bought what was Columbia Tri-Star Picture in 1989 for $3.4 billion. This entertainment operation has done poorly recently. Sony’s fiscal year ends in March, and for the period revenue for the group dropped 15% to $7.2 billion and operating income fell by 10% to $466 million. Sony is in trouble. It lost $3.1 billion in its latest fiscal on revenue of $86.5 billion. Sony’s gaming system group is under siege by Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) and Nintendo. Its consumer electronics group faces an overwhelming challenge from Apple. The company’s future prospects have been further damaged by the Japan earthquake and the hack of its large PlayStation Network. CEO Howard Stringer is under pressure to do something to increase the value of Sony’s shares. The only valuable asset with which he can easily part is Columbia which would attract interest from a number of large media operations. Sony Entertainment will disappear with the sale of its assets.


2. A&W

A&W All–American Food Restaurants. A&W Restaurants is owned by fast food holding company giant Yum! Brands (NYSE: YUM) which has had the firm for sale since January. There have been no buyers. The chain was founded in 1919. The size of company grew rapidly, and immediately after WWII 450 franchises were opened. The firm pioneered the “drive in” fast food format. A&W began to sell canned versions of its sodas in 1971 – the part of the business that will survive as a container beverage business which is now owned by Dr. Pepper/Snapple. The A&W Restaurant business is too small to be viable now. It had 322 outlets in the U.S and 317 outside the U.S at the end of last year.  All were operated by franchisees. By contrast, Yum!’s flagship KFC had 5,055 stories in the U.S. and 11,798 overseas. Two massive global fast food chains are even larger. Subway has 35,000 locations worldwide, and McDonald’s has nearly as many. A&W does not have the ability to market itself against these chains and at least a dozen other fast food operators like Burger King. And, A&W does not have the size to efficiently handle food purchase, logistics, and transportation cost compared to competitors many times as large.

3. Saab

The first Saab car was launched in 1949 by Swedish industrial firm Svenska Aeroplan. The firm produced a series of sedans and coupes, the flagship of which was the 900 series, released in 1978. About one million of these would eventually be sold. Saab’s engineering reputation and the rise in its international sales attracted GM to buy half the company in 1989 and the balance in 2000. Saab’s problem, which grew under the management of the world’s No.1 automobile manufacturer, was that it was never more than a niche brand in an industry dominated by very large players such as Ford and Chevrolet. It did not build very inexpensive cars like VW did, or expensive sports cars as Porsche did. Saab’s models were, in price and features, up against models from the world’s largest car companies that sold hundreds of thousands of units each year. Saab also did not have a wide number of models to suit different budgets and driver tastes. GM decided to jettison the brand in late 2008, and the small company quickly became insolvent. Saab finally found a buyer in high-end car maker Spyker which took control of the company last year. Spyker quickly ran low on money because only 32,000 Saabs were sold in 2010. Spyker turned to Chinese industrial investors for money. Pang Da Automobile agreed to take an equity stake in the company. But, the agreement is not binding, and with a potential of global sales which are still below 50,000 a year based on manufacturing and marketing operations and demand, Saab is no longer a financially viable brand.