Avid Tech & Web 2.0: A Savior or Disaster? (AVID, GYI)

Print Email

In a screen of 52-week lows this morning, a peculiar name hit the list that we haven’t seen under that screen before yesterday. Avid Tech (NASDAQ:AVID) is trading down $0.45 on the day at $28.10, under the $28.38 prior year low.  Shares are now down almost 20% from the August 9 highs over $35.00 and the high over the last 52-weeks is $40.68. 

The real problem is that this isn’t just a 52-week low, it’s a low not seen since 2003.  This is also after its CEO left in July.

What is interesting is that Avid is "THE GO-TO" media and broadcast technology company.  The company sells all the camera, graphic, and broadcast technology that is required for television networks and for high-end Web 2.0 media operations.  All the big boys use their equipment or at least equipment sold by them. 

If you have done any investigation of running Web 2.0 operations like video shows and the like you will know that Avid is considered the Rolls Royce equivalent in digital video and broadcast equipment systems.  The problem is that not everyone can afford Rolls Royce."  The malaise that has hit traditional media companies and the lower ad spending that has started may be contributing to Avid’s woes.  It wouldn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that lower revenues from media companies might delay and slow down some cap-ex spending on more super high-end equipment.

Most of the shoestring budget Web 2.0 companies can’t afford the Avid solutions.  When you look at what people are able to put together with some less than perfect digital cameras and basic edit packages, it is no surprise that the myriad of Web 2.0 companies out there are piece mealing together much cheaper systems.  The cheaper systems definitely are not in the same league as Avid, but a budget of less than $1,000.00 for many dictates that many of these companies and individuals use a band-aid solution that is less than perfect.

Maybe Avid can figure out more ways to tap that lower-end user without watering down its existing high-end base.  Many individuals and small companies in and around the Web 2.0 model operations need better low-end systems and that market is still very fragmented right now.  But Web 2.0 also has a habit of eating many high-end traditional go-to operations. 

Our Special Situation Investing Newsletter subscribers (sample here for the first call in May and exit call early last month) saw this firsthand where we predicted the Web 2.0 and wiki-models would result in a rapid drop in shares of Getty Images (NYSE:GYI).  There is an opportunity for Avid to capture this lower-end market IF it wants to.  But the industry trends are not really trends, they are headwinds.

With this stock hitting new multi-year lows, maybe they are willing to try reaching down to more of a lower-end customer with a goal of making it up in volume.  The company just recently sold its DigiDelivery┬«, asecure digital file-exchange system developed by Avid’s Digidesignaudio division, to Aspera so maybe they are considering some more changes.

Jon C. Ogg
September 12, 2007

Jon Ogg can be reached at jonogg@247wallst.com; he produces the 24/7 Wall St. Special Situation Investing Newsletter and he does not own securities in the companies he covers.