By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
New York — Sony remains the top brand, but Samsung is the fastest growing, according to brand ratings pollsters. For the fourth consecutive year, and sixth time in the last nine years, Sony was named No. 1 brand — linking its corporate reputation to brand image — in the annual Harris Interactive survey of best brands. For the second straight year, Samsung was chosen as the world's fastest-growing brand by consultant Interbrand. In leading growth among the top 100 global brands, Samsung increased its brand value 31 percent from 2002, to $10.8 billion. In three years, this figure has more than doubled from $5.2 billion. Interbrand's annual top 100 survey ranks Samsung the world's 25th largest brand.
Littleton, Colo.— Satellite TV provider EchoStar Communications, which operates the DISH network, has authorized the repurchase of about $1 billion of its debt. The plan, approved by the company's board, approves time-to-time buy-back of debt securities for EchoStar and its subsidiary, EchoStar DBS. The repurchase will be based on market conditions. EchoStar already has redeemed all of its 9 1/4 percent senior notes, due in 2006, and the company recently announced that it had bought back $245 million of its 9 1/8 percent senior notes, due in 2009.
Amsterdam, The Netherlands — In an effort to simplify organization of its consumer electronics segment, as well as to reduce costs, Royal Philips Electronics plans to focus on three main product areas — displays, entertainment hubs or networked multimedia devices and infotainment or mobile audio, video and communications products. By introducing a more competitive operating cost base, Philips anticipates annual savings of $451 million by the end of 2005. The $451 million in additional cost savings goes beyond the $564 million Philips said could be saved when it announced its second-quarter financials. At that time, Philips reported a $47.4 million loss for its CE segment on $2.2 billion in sales.
Milpitas, Calif. — Palm has completed an $18 million equity offering for 1.2 million shares of Palm common stock at $15 per share. The shares were issued to an institutional investor through Palm's $200-million shelf registration, which is on file with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Proceeds will be used for general corporate purposes by the company's Solutions Group, which makes handheld computers.
El Segundo, Calif. — DirecTV is making an exchange offer for an aggregate principal amount of up to $1.4 billion of newly issued Securities and Exchange Commission registered 8 3/8 percent senior notes, due March 15, 2013. The notes are being exchanged for a like principal amount of outstanding SEC unregistered original 8 3/8 percent senior notes, also due March 15, 2013. The exchange offer being made to holders of the original notes is not subject to any minimum amount of notes being exchanged. The registered notes will be DirecTV's general senior unsecured obligations and will rank senior to company subordinated debt and junior to any of DirecTV's secured debt.
This TWICE webinar, hosted by senior editor Alan Wolf, will take a look at what may be the hottest CE products at retail that will be sold during the all-important fourth quarter. Top technologies, market strategies and industry trends will be discussed with industry analysts and executives.