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Audio Sales Hit 5-Year High In Dollars For '99

With the lift from a healthy December and a strong fourth quarter, total factory sales of audio equipment hit a five-year dollar high in 1999.

The sharp growth in autosound, combined with an improvement in the market for component and compact systems, more than offset the lower sales posted by portable and component audio products, according to figures compiled by CEA.

Total factory sales of audio equipment rose 6.3% in December to $567.7 million, to put the results for the fourth quarter at $2.48 billion. The full-year sales total of $8.07 billion was up a modest 2.7% from 1998, but that was the industry's best since the $8.3 billion of 1995.

Autosound sales, the runaway market growth leader most of the year, slid down to a scant 0.4% improvement in December, coming in at $117.2 million. But for the quarter, autosound sales were up a solid 20.1% to $505.2 million, to put the 1999 total at $2.16 billion, up 13.3%.

The big gainer for the year, CEA said, was in-dash CD, where sales jumped 41% to $935 million. Also, speaker sales rose 6% and amplifiers enjoyed a 29% climb.

Sales of portable audio, including home radio, staged a strong recovery in December, posting a 15.8% jump to $179 million and lifting the fourth-quarter total by 6.4% to $827.3 million. However, sales for the year of $2.4 billion were still off 5.2% from 1998. While the category was down for the year, CEA said, home radio sales were up 4%, and CD headset revenue increased by 6%.

Total sales of home hi-fi products rose 3.3% in December to $271.6 million, as a 7.9% rise in sales of compact and packaged component systems to $147.6 million more than offset the 1.6% decline to $123.9 million for sales of individual components.

Home audio sales for the quarter were up 9.4% to $1.15 billion, with contributions from both sectors. System sales for the period were up 15.6% to $710.6 million, while components showed a 0.6% rise to $439.4 million.

For the year, home audio sales were up 1.6%, with a 4.8% rise for systems to $2.07 billion more than compensating for the 3.1% drop for components to $1.44 billion.

In systems, CEA reported, sales of compacts were up 9% on the year to $1.7 billion. And while the component sector had an overall decline, a 77% leap for surround-sound models resulted in a 10% increase for the dollar sales generated by receivers.

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