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Palm’s warning sends shares tumbling

26 февраля 2010

Shares in Palm fell by more than 13 per cent on Thursday after the US smartphone maker warned that its fiscal third-quarter and full-year revenues would be “well below” forecasts due to sluggish handset sales.

The sales shortfall represents a serious blow for Palm’s management, which has based the struggling company’s turnround strategy on the success of Palm’s new WebOS operating system and the Palm Pre and Palm Pixi smartphones that run on it.

The California-based company, which was a pioneer in the smartphone market with its Treo line of handsets, launched the Palm Pre a year ago in an effort to catch up with rivals including Research in Motion’s BlackBerry family of smartphones, Google Android-based devices and the Apple iPhone.

But while Palm’s new operating system has been widely praised, the company has had difficulty persuading network operators and customers to embrace its new smartphones, despite launching new versions of both the Pre and Pixi with Verizon Wireless, the largest in US mobile operators, in January.

“Revenues for the quarter and full year are being impacted by slower-than-expected consumer adoption of the company’s products, which has resulted in lower-than-expected order volumes from carriers and the deferral of orders to future periods,” said Jon Rubinstein, chief executive.

Palm said it now expects revenues for its fiscal third quarter to be between $285m and $310m and that revenues for the full year would be well below its previous forecast of $1.6bn to $1.8bn. Palm is due to announce third-quarter results on March 18.

The size of the sales shortfall in the current quarter surprised analysts who had expected Palm to report third-quarter revenues of about $409m.

Mr Rubinstein, a former senior executive at Apple, acknowledged that “driving broad consumer adoption of Palm products is taking longer than we anticipated”. But insisted: “Our carrier partners remain committed, and we are working closely with them to increase awareness and drive sales of our differentiated Palm products.”

Some analysts remained unconvinced. “We believe Palm has seen weak demand at new carriers coupled with excessive inventory in the channel,” said James Moorman, an analyst with Standard & Poor’s Equity Research.

Mr Moorman added: “While we believe Palm has a promising operating system with its WebOS, we believe it will continue to struggle with service provider adoption.”

Palm’s shares were trading about $7 at lunchtime on Thursday having fallen as low as $6.50 on the Nasdaq Stock market in early trading. The share price decline is likely to renew speculation about a possible sale of Palm to a smartphone industry new entrant or a merger with an existing rival.

Источник: Financial Times

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