In today’s tech driven era the markets for digital video systems and fiber optic systems are enormously competitive and it seems that the ante is being upped on a daily basis. The markets utilizing these functions are certainly characterized by rapid technological change and declining median prices. The chief competitive factors in this sector are network management capabilities, distribution capabilities, product performance and reliability, as well as price and distribution capabilities. Small-cap companies find it difficult to compete in this segment of the market because principal competitors such as Cisco Systems Inc. (NASDAQ: CSCO), Motorola Solutions Inc. (NYSE: MSI) and Ericsson (NASDAQ: ERIC) are substantially larger and have much greater financial, marketing and technical resources than the smaller players. The larger competitors are also in a better position to withstand significant reduction in capital spending by consumers and are more capable of engaging in price based competition for product sales.
Having said that, there are small-cap companies who do compete in the industry and one of them is Emmy award winning company Harmonic Inc. (NASDAQ: HLIT). In October of 2012 the company announced that it was the recipient of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences’ 64th Annual Technology and Engineering Emmy for the company’s contribution toward the development and commercialization of a digital infrastructure for local cable ad insertion. The company garnered the Emmy for its sophisticated video encoding and splicing technologies which have helped to reduce the operational difficulty and expense needed to support local program and ad insertion. Cable operators can now deliver customized advertising for a wide range of video services in a much more cost effective manner thanks to Harmonic. The award is impressive validation for what the company does best and that is designing and selling video infrastructure products. The company announced this month that global satellite communications provider Eutelsat Communications has selected Harmonic to optimize bandwidth allocation for its direct-to-home (DTH) service in Africa. The company has successfully implemented DTH deployments in Africa and globally in the past, so this is not a new Endeavour for them.
But awards and contracts aside, is this a viable prospect for your portfolio? Looking at some of the numbers Harmonic boasts a market cap of $603 million and is trading at $5.21 per share. The company reported that its revenue for Q3 2012 was $136.7 million, down two percent versus the same quarter in 2011 and up three percent versus Q2 of 2012. The GAAP net loss for Q3 was $8.2million or $0.07 per share. This is in comparison to a GAAP net income $3.5m or $0.03 per share for the same quarter 2011. The company reported a GAAP net income of $17,000, or $0.00 per share in the second quarter of 2012. These numbers are on target with the company’s previously issued guidance of revenue in the range of $130 million to $140 million. They are also in line with the consensus expectations of analysts. The company reported that gross margins and operating margins for the Q3 were 44 percent and -1 percent, compared to 46 percent and 3 percent for the same period in 2011, and 43 percent and -2 percent respectively for Q2, 2012. Harmonic attributes the dip in gross margins to product mix, as well as a shift of revenue to emerging markets where ASPs are much lower. The company will release Q4 2012 numbers on January 29, 2013.