Cathode ray tubes (CRTs) are over 100 years old but it seems they still have the ability to stir the hearts and minds of people.
That much is clear after five of the biggest display companies in the world agreed to pay over half a billion dollars to settle a US class action.
Samsung, Philips, Panasonic, Hitachi and Toshiba all agreed to pay a total of $528 million.
The companies had conspired to price fix CRTs in the marketplace. Four years ago, antitrust authorities looked into the price fixing allegations.
Samsung put its hands up in the air then and pleaded guilty to the charges.
Samsung’s share of the bill amounts to $225 million, which will be doled out to people in the USA who joined the class action.
Toshiba has widened its investigation into its accounting practices in its TV, computer and chip businesses.
Its probing teams of Ninja accountants have already turned up irregularities that led to profits being overstated by at least $415 million in recent years.
Toshiba last week set up a third-party committee, headed by a former prosecutor, to conduct an independent inquiry in addition to its own internal investigation into accounting problems related to infrastructure and construction work.
Toshiba said previously it was likely to mark down operating profit by $415 million for the three years through March 2014 after it found inappropriate reporting of some infrastructure project costs and construction work.
Shares of Toshiba have slid about 20 percent since it disclosed the latest scandal in early April.
The big problem is that it is the second accounting probe at the company in less than two years and has forced Toshiba to delay reporting its earnings for the fiscal year ended in March.
On Friday, Toshiba said it plans to release earnings as soon as possible after the probe is complete.
It is not clear at this point who will be required by the board to write a haiku on the transience of life before ritually disembowelling themselves in the staff car park, while someone from the PR department scatters cherry blossom into the wind.
Toshiba has admitted that an internal probe into accounting irregularities may mean it has to mark down three years of profit by about seven percent.
The announcement was meant to sooth investor fears the investigation might blow up into a bigger accounting scandal.
Tosh said that it was likely to mark down operating profit for the three years ended March 2014 by $420 million.
Shares had fallen 13 percent since Toshiba spooked investors on May 8, saying it was extending an investigation into inappropriate reporting of some infrastructure project costs and construction work.
The reason investors were spooked was because this would be Toshiba’s second accounting investigation in less than two years.
The company is in the process of setting up a third-party committee to investigate irregularities, which Toshiba said could reach a different conclusion on treatment of markdowns. The widening of an investigation first announced in April had prompted Toshiba to delay its quarterly earnings announcement and cancel a year-end dividend.
As a result of the extended probe, Toshiba said it would not be able to announce financial results for the latest fiscal year until June or later. The firm would normally have released earnings by early May.
Toshiba shares skidded 17 percent ($2.5 Billion) to its daily limit Monday on the Tokyo Exchange after the company reported after market close Friday, that it was withdrawing its earnings guidance for the fiscal year ended March and cancelling a year-end dividend due as it expanded a previously announced investigation.
This is Toshiba Corp’s second probe into its own accounting in two years leaving analysts and investors in doubt as to just what the root problem is and its long term consequences on operations.
Toshiba said it is setting up a third-party committee for further investigation, and that it could not report its financial results for the year ended in March, normally announced around this time, until June or later.
SanDisk, Toshiba’s partner in NAND-Flash, announced on the 16th of April that the company was “postponing” their financial analyst day meeting. No future date was set by Sanjay Mehrotra CEO of SanDisk. SanDisk has missed their earnings estimates for the last three quarters and according to downgrades by market analysts appears to be suffering from poor execution on a number of fronts:
• Loss of Apple’s SSD business
• A too optimistic Enterprise strategy – missing 2TB SATA drive solution
• Poor integration of the Fusion I/O acquisition
• 3D NAND migration uncertainty – late entry position
• High margin retail business is slowing
• SanDisk must renegotiate licensing revenue with Samsung (Aug-16, now 40% EPS)
• Poor inventory management
• SanDisk was granted only 5 patents last year
To be fair Toshiba’s problems are said to stem from accounting missteps in infrastructure projects – on the other hand “infrastructure projects” is a fairly inclusive term and could mean any number of things. Toshiba and SanDisk are in the midst of building new fabrication facilities in Japan. To date, there is no news that the accounting issues involve the semiconductor side of operations. The fact that building fabs is extremely expensive and requires a lot of cash on top of a mountain of debt has not been lost on those in the investment community. The negative reports from both companies has set off alarms in the analyst community which is now guarding against any “surprises” that might be in store.
Toshiba’s accounting shortfalls has placed the two companies in the crosshairs of the investment community given that the technology partnership may be exhibiting strains between the two competitors. Both are joined at the “hip” with production responsibilities and are in the throes of “reimagining” just how the combination can adjust before embarking on telling the world just exactly why either entity is a good investment choice going forward…,
Toshiba has opened the kimono on what it calls the fastest microSD memory cards in the world.
These microSD memory cards are the first in the industry that comply with the High-Speed UHS-II Interface Standard. This is the ultra-high speed serial bus interface that has been defined in the SD Memory Card Standard Ver. 4.20, and allows users to choose from 32GB and 64GB capacities.
Being UHS Speed Class 3 (U3) enabled, these new Toshiba microSD memory cards will enable high-quality 4K video capture at constant minimum write speeds of 30MB/s.
It will mean that the card can be used to record 4K2K video, live broadcast and content on high-performance cameras.
The 64GB cards have a maximum read speed of 260MB/s and a maximum write speed of 240MB/s. The 32GB cards have a maximum read speed of 145MB/s and maximum write speed of 130MB/s. Comparing them with Toshiba’s existing 32GB microSD UHS-I cards you would see an 8x write speed improvement and 2.7x read speed improvement.
Sample shipments for chipset vendors and set manufacturers of smart phones and other mobile devices are available now, but no one has mentioned any pricing yet.
OCZ has proven that all is not well in the SSD market by managing itself into bankruptcy.
One of the bright spots of the downturn was that SSDs had done well as every tablet in the land needed one.
However, OCZ’s bank accounts had been taken over by Hercules Technology Growth Capital, because the company had not paid back a loan.
OCZ did not comply with certain of the operating ratios and covenants in the loan agreement and the banks gave them all the company’s savings.
Toshiba, upon hearing of the company’s woes, agreed to all of the company’s assets in a bankruptcy proceeding. OCZ and Tosh have now completed negotiations on an asset purchase agreement.
Under the deal employees will all keep their jobs, but the company will have to file for bankruptcy. Of course Toshiba’s offer has to be accepted by the bankruptcy court, and this is by no means a done deal.
If the company is not able to agree to final documentation with Toshiba, the Company expects to imminently file a petition for bankruptcy and liquidate.
The maker of expensive printer ink, HP has sued seven optical disk drive makers, claiming they conspired to inflate disk drive prices for six years.
Toshiba, Samsung, Sony, Panasonic, NEC, TEAC and Quanta Storage are all in the dock.
According to Computerworld, HP said it takes “price-fixing very seriously and intends to pursue its rights aggressively in this and in other price-fixing litigation”.
The lawsuit claims the conspiracy to drive up prices took place from January. 1, 2004 until January 1, 2010, when “almost all forms of home entertainment and data storage were on optical discs”.
At the time, the defendants and their co-conspirators controlled more than 90 percent of the ODD market, Meg’s company alleged.
HP said that the defendants control patent pools that effectively deter entry into the ODD market by jacking up the licensing costs.
HP named the 3C DVD Patent Group, which covers patents related to the Blu-ray format, and several patent pools related to CD technology.
Prices of NAND flash memory are going up on the back of strong demand for smartphones and tablets.
A year ago the situation was a bit different. The market was oversaturated and to deal with a slump in prices, caused by oversupply, Toshiba was forced to slash NAND production by 30 percent.
It might be time for Tosh to expand. The company’s plants are already running at full capacity and it still can’t meet demand, so Toshiba seems to be seriously considering investing part of its capex hike in new fabs.
Toshiba’s new president Hisao Tanaka recently said the company is “looking into” Fab 5, but it has not made a decision yet. Tanaka says the company wants to be in a position to respond quickly to the market and it all depends on future trends.
The weaker yen is also working in Toshiba’s favour, giving it an advantage over Samsung and memory makers in the rest of the world, Reuters reports.
Toshiba has developed its second generation 19nm process that will be applied to mass produce 2-bit-per-cell 64Gb NAND memory chips starting later this month.
The new process helped Toshiba develop the smallest 2-bit 64Gb NAND chips on the market, measuring just 94 square millimetres, making it slightly smaller than the average studio apartment in Tokyo.
The chips also incorporate a new high speed writing method, which means they can achieve write speeds of up to 25MB/s, making them the fastest chips in class.
In addition to 2-bit-per-cell chips, Toshiba is also working on a 3-bit-per-cell design, using the same process technology. The company hopes to start mass production of these chips some time in the second quarter.
Initially they will be used in smartphones and tablets, but eventually they should also come to PCs, in the form of next generation SSDs.
Samsung managed to surpass Apple as the top semiconductor customer in 2012. According to Gartner, Samsung and Apple dominated the market in 2012, but Samsung enjoyed a bit more growth and overtook Cupertino.
Samsung gobbled up $28.9 billion worth of silicon, up from $18.6 billion in 2011, leaving its market share at eight percent. Apple ended the year with $21.4 billion and ranked second, although it beat Samsung in 2011 with $18.8 billion. Samsung’s semiconductor spending simply spiked a bit more.
HP and Dell came in third and fourth, with $14 billion and $8.6 billion, respectively. However, both outfits saw a double-digit slide in terms of overall consumption. Toshiba, LG and Nokia also saw their spending go down. Nokia dropped five spots in the ranking, as its spending shrank from $8.6 billion to just $5 billion.
It’s more than apparent that traditional PC makers did not do very well. HP and Dell are down, and so is Toshiba, with a hefty 17.1 percent slide. Lenovo saw barely any growth, but it outperformed its direct competitors. Cisco also lost a bit of ground, which is understandable given the PC downturn.
In terms of overall shipments, 2012 was a pretty bad year for the industry, as semiconductor spending dropped from $306.8 billion in 2011 to $297.6 billion. However, the worst part of the slump could be behind us, as the semicon market is set to return to growth in 2013, but it might be a while before it hits 2011 levels again.