February 14, 2013

Another Day, Another Apple HDTV Rumor: Will Apple Buy Loewe?


The Apple HDTV rumor mill got a decided bump this week when a trader was cited by Reuters as saying that “Apple supposedly wants to bid four Euros a share for Loewe,” the German luxury electronics goods brand. Loewe, among other things, makes HDTVs—fueling Apple TV speculation and a stock price jump of 23.16 percent for Loewe.

Loewe told Reuters that it was “unaware” of any offer from Apple, but the story is familiar. Last May, AppleInsider said that the company was interested in the German TV manufacturer, citing unnamed sources within the company. Loewe’s at the time denied any such negotiations, and the story was considered to be a red herring.

If it is indeed on the table, the acquisition would be a small one for Apple: Loewe’s market capitalization is only around $58.6 million, and it’s in trouble. The company is cutting 1,000 jobs and in the most recent quarter reported losses of $39 million.

That said, those losses are indicative of the tough road that luxury CE is experiencing in a down economy. Loewe makes Blu-ray players, DVD recorders, hard-disk recorders, multiroom systems, speakers and racks—but all of the ancillary products have not been enough to make up for softness in the high-end TV market—which is where Apple would play, should it choose to get into it. Shareholders could be convinced to take on the acquisition however should Loewe’s existing infrastructure and manufacturing footprint allow Apple to come into the market already at some scale—an obstacle many analysts see as an issue for the company’s HDTV prospects.

Apple would also need to wrangle shares away from Sharp, which owns 28.8 percent of the company (Loewe’s executives have 14 percent and hard-drive manufacturer LaCie owns 11.2 percent of the remaining shares).

For now the rumor remains simply that: a rumor. But as the Apple HDTV rumor mill continues to crank up in intensity, one wonders if there will soon be a payoff.




Edited by Rich Steeves




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