Launched in 1995, Salon.com is one of the pioneering news and commentary sites on the web. In recent years, it has been eclipsed by larger and better financed sites such as The Atlantic and Washington Post (NYSE: WPO)-owned Slate. Of course, today there are thousands of websites that comment on the news each day. Some of these, like The Blaze, which is owned by Glenn Beck, are well funded. In a sign that Salon is very close to being shuttered, the company “lost” its CEO and CFO recently. Chief technology officer, Cynthia Jeffers, was put in charge. But Salon will need a great deal more than new management. At the end of the final quarter of 2011, Salon had $149,000 in the bank against short-term liabilities that included $12.7 million in loans. During the same quarter, Salon lost $997,000 on revenue of $1.03 million. Rumors are that John Warnock, the cofounder of Adobe Systems (NASDAQ: ADBE), and investment banker Bill Hambrecht fund the company. But as it falls apart at the seams, more money is unlikely to be forthcoming.
American Suzuki Motor sold 10,695 cars and light trucks in the first five months of this year. That was down 3.9% compared with the same period in 2011. The sales gave the manufacturer a U.S. market share of just 0.2%. One reason the company has trouble moving its vehicles is the poor reputation of its cars. In the 2012 JD Power survey of U.S. vehicle dependability, Suzuki’s scores in power-trains, body and materials, and features and accessories were below those of almost every other brand. One sign Suzuki is having trouble selling its vehicles is that it currently offers a very aggressive zero-percent financing package for 72 months on all of its 2012 cars, trucks and SUVs. Even with aggressive sales tactics, Suzuki cannot improve its position in the American market. Most of its cars sell for less than $20,000 and its trucks and SUVs for under $25,000. Almost every other manufacturer with a broad range of vehicles has flooded this end of the market with cheap, fuel-efficient models. Arguably the most successful car company in the U.S. based on growth — Hyundai — does particularly well in this segment.
5. Pacific Sunwear
Pacific Sunwear built its reputation offering “California-style” accessories, primarily sunglasses, shoes and swimwear. The company was started in a surf shop in Newport Beach in 1980. Recently, highly regarded corporate balance sheet and earnings research firm GMI Ratings put Pacific Sunwear of California on its list of companies at risk of going bankrupt. That should come as no surprise. Five years ago, the company’s stock traded for $23. Recently, it dropped to $1.50. In its most recent reported quarter, Pacific Sunwear lost $15 million on revenue of $174 million. The retailer’s cash and cash equivalents dropped to $22 million from $50 million at the end of the previous quarter. Pacific Sunwear management said the company would have a non-GAAP net loss in the current quarter as well. Pacific Sunwear also disclosed it had a new line of credit with Wells Fargo (NYSE: WFC). Its comments about the loan in its latest 10-Q were telling: “if we were to experience same-store sales declines similar to those which occurred in fiscal 2010 and 2009, we may be required to access most, if not all, of the New Credit Facility and potentially require other sources of financing to fund our operations, which might not be available.” Why is the company in so much trouble? It is too small and is in a commoditized business. Nearly every major department store chain sells products similar to those Pacific Sunwear offers, and so do many niche retailers. Pacific Sunwear, meanwhile, has only 729 small stores. What will happen to the retailer? It could be bought by a larger company — its market cap is only $108 million — or it may go out of business with its inventory sold to other retailers.