PARIS — Very strong growth in digital TV and rapid growth of U.S. DVD sales boosted revenues for Thomson Multimedia's Consumer Products segment 5.5 percent to $1.41 billion in the first quarter, compared with $1.34 billion in the year-ago period.
The Consumer Products segment — by far Thomson's largest — also enjoyed a 12 percent climb in decoder and cable modem sales, which reached 1.6 million units in the first quarter, compared with the same three months in 2000. The hike in decoder and cable modem sales is attributed mainly to very strong increases in Europe and Latin America, which offset the slowdown in U.S. decoder sales.
In other product categories within Consumer Products, audio sales continued to grow strongly, registering a 35 percent increase in the first quarter.
In the United States, the slowdown in consumer products during the first two months of 2001 did not prevent this segment from achieving an overall flat quarter. Thomson said it maintained this comparable level of activity over the first quarter in 2000, while keeping a "hold price" policy.
At the end of March, Thomson said inventory levels were extremely satisfactory for all consumer product categories.
The Displays & Components segment, Thomson's second largest, saw sales rise 7.4 percent in the first quarter, compared with the year-ago period. Sales reached $332 million, up from $310 million the previous year. This growth reflects very good performance of large-size color TV tubes and a strong increase of sales in optical components, namely optical modules for DVD-video and DVD-ROM. The group also strengthened its business in plasma displays by extending its partnership with NEC this past March.
Overall first-quarter revenues at Thomson jumped 14.1 percent to $1.98 billion, up from $1.74 billion in the same three months last year. Without the integration of Technicolor, the professional broadcast activities of Philips and Nextream, revenue growth was 7.4 percent higher, compared with the same period last year, when Thomson registered very strong growth.
Thomson's first-quarter consolidated performance is in line with the company's full-year, double-digit growth objective, the company said. It reflects solid worldwide sales in digital products, a significant sales increase in Europe and the impact of the programs implemented as early as November 2000 to anticipate market evolution, particularly in the United States.
An activity level in line with its year objective and an operating result growth of more than 40 percent is anticipated for the first half of 2001, Thomson said.
"Ongoing programs to strengthen our operational performance and the successful integration of Technicolor and Philips Broadcast should enable us to significantly improve our operating margin, starting in the first half 2001," said Thierry Breton, chairman/CEO.