April Sees First Rise In '99 Audio Sales

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With a solid recovery logged in the home audio sector, audio marketers turned April into their first up month of the year for the overall value of factory-level shipments, according to figures just issued by CEMA.

The audio industry, which closed out the year's first quarter with the value of shipments down 2.8%, opened the second quarter with an April shipment value rise of 2.7% to $544.1 million from last year's $530 million. But that wasn't strong enough growth to offset the January-March decline, and the four-month shipment total of $2.14 billion was off 1.5% from the year earlier $2.17 billion.

Portable products posted a fourth consecutive monthly decline, with a 19.8% April drop to $138.5 million from last year's 172.7 million, for a four-month total of $524.6 million, down 16.7% from $629.7 million.

Total home audio had its first monthly growth of the year, as sales rose 18.1% to $219 million from $185.4 million, but closed out the year through April with sales down 2.1% to $889.7 million from $908.4 million.

Growth in home audio was led by compact and component system sales, which jumped 24.2% to $116.8 million from $94 million. That jump more than offset a first-quarter sales slump, and four-month sales edged up 0.3% from last year's $473.7 million to $475.3 million.

Sales of audio components had an 11.9% increase to $102.2 million from $91.4 million, with, CEMA said, the results bolstered by a 50% jump in sales of receivers and smaller gains in CD players and shelf speakers. However, four-month components sales lagged last year's $434.8 million by 4%, coming in at $417.4 million.

Sales were up as well for the industry's most consistently strong performer, aftermarket autosound. Sales for the month were up 8.5% to $186.6 million from $171.9 million, to put the four-month total at $724 million, up 14% from the year-earlier $635 million.

Based on traditional selling patterns, the seasonally adjusted annual selling rate for portable audio products was a weak $2.3 billion, though an improvement on the four-month average rate of $2.1 billion. Audio system sales moved at a year's high $2.1 billion rate in April for a four-month rate of $1.9 billion.

The April rate for component sales too hit a 1999 high, coming in at $1.6 billion and putting the four-month sales rate at $1.5 billion. For autosound, the April rate was a sub-par $2.07 billion and well below the four-month annualized selling rate of $2.14 billion.

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