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 user 2009-09-11 at 12:28:06 pm Views: 38
  • #22710
    Remember Lexmark?
    this era of Kindle books, text messages and Facebook photos, printed
    information is taking it on the chin – and perhaps no company has been
    hit harder than Lexmark. The Kentucky-based printer company is one of
    the worst performing stocks in the hardware sector this year, down
    about 30%.But Lexmark (LXK) CEO Paul Curlander hopes a new line of
    printers will help him climb off the canvas.The eight new machines for
    small and medium-sized businesses, which Lexmark is launching today,
    sport eco-friendly features designed to conserve paper and ink. Some
    have touchscreens. And they should get more attention than usual,
    thanks to expanded distribution deals Lexmark signed earlier this year
    with retailers like Staples (SPLS), Office Depot (ODP) and OfficeMax
    (OMX).“We’re trying to make inkjet a bigger piece of the business
    market,” Curlander tells Fortune. “We want to move down from the
    enterprise space into small and medium business, and get device prices
    down into the $199 to $399 range.”

    Even with these fresh
    products, Curlander is in for a bruising battle. Last year Lexmark’s
    nemesis, printing giant Hewlett-Packard (HPQ), shipped about six times
    more inkjet printers, and nine times more laser printers.Under the
    unique economics of the printing business, that size difference can be
    particularly significant. Companies like HP and Lexmark often sell
    printers at a loss, expecting to make profits later from sales of ink
    and toner.

    So Lexmark’s market share disadvantage hurts more
    than just its pride; lower volumes make it tougher for the company to
    keep costs low on money-losing hardware, and to later milk those
    customers for profitable ink sales.In part because of those economics,
    Lexmark’s business has suffered over the past few years. Sales shrank
    from $5.1 billion in 2006 to $4.5 billion in 2008, and its share has
    continued to slip this year; industry leader HP’s sales rose from $26.8
    billion to $29.4 billion over a similar period.Now Lexmark has a
    comeback strategy that’s focused not on the low-end consumer market but
    on businesses, who are likely to buy color laser printers and
    multi-function inkjets that fax and copy as well as print. Those
    customers, the thinking goes, are more likely to bring in healthy ink
    sales down the road.

    Most on Wall Street are not convinced that
    Lexmark’s strategy will work. Bank of America has an underperform
    rating on the stock, saying it’s too soon to tell whether Lexmark’s
    strategy has legs. Deutsche Bank has a hold, saying it’s skeptical that
    Lexmark can grab market share without simply slashing prices.Still,
    Curlander sounds upbeat. The company has survived thus far by cutting
    expenses in proportion to declining revenues, and it has held on to
    niche customers like pharmacies and bank branches, where its printers
    are popular.

    Now Curlander is talking up Lexmark’s push into
    managed print services, industry lingo for consulting on how businesses
    can get their printing done with less waste and less money.He waves off
    the observation that Lexmark isn’t alone on the services bandwagon; HP
    and Xerox (XRX) are saying many of the same things about helping
    customers print less. “We’re actually doing it,” he says. “I’m not
    convinced they are.”One of the things Lexmark does have going for it,
    ironically, is that investors have punished the stock rather
    mercilessly of late  – enough that a few investors are banking on a
    rebound. Among the Lexmark bulls is respected Bernstein Research
    analyst A.M. Sacconaghi, who has an outperform rating on the stock.

    bullish case: Lexmark’s sales have actually held up pretty well
    considering the overall doldrums in the printing market, which
    Sacconaghi believes are due more to the battered global economy than to
    an Internet-fueled decline in printing.Lexmark’s failure to hedge
    against currency fluctuations makes its cash flows look worse than they
    are. Its laser business is healthy. And in early August, Lexmark stock
    was at $16.70 – so cheap that investors were valuing its still-sizable
    inkjet business at basically zero.Others might be starting to come
    around on Lexmark; the stock is up 13% since Sacconaghi made that case
    in a note last month. Even so, Sacconaghi has a lofty price target of
    $25 on the stock – which means if Curlander wants to prove his
    supporters right, these new printers had better be good.
    Cellnet cuts ties with remaining IT vendors(australia)
    News follows distributor’s decision to offload its IBM business to Avnet
    is terminating its remaining IT relationships and will wind up the
    division this month. The news comes after the ASX-listed distributor
    sold its IBM business to Avnet.Samsung printers channel manager, Greg
    Wallis, confirmed its printer relationship with Cellnet would end on
    July 1. He said the distributor had been a strategic distribution
    partner but wouldn’t have a material impact on its business.

    channel and SMB manager, Stephen Bell, also confirmed the printing
    vendor would not be working with Cellnet going forward. It will now
    evaluate whether it needs to find a replacement supplier to take up
    where Cellnet left off.General manager for UPS vendor Eaton Power
    Quality, Michael Mallia, expressed surprise at the developments and
    said it had been undergoing joint training with Cellnet in recent
    weeks.“To be honest, I am not exactly sure where we stand as to whether
    the Avnet guys will take our business across,” he said. “We haven’t had
    a chance to talk to them but we have already had calls from Avnet
    people to sell UPS anyway. But it is all up in the air right now.”Asus
    CEO, Ted Chen, also confirmed the vendor did not expect to continue its
    relationship with Cellnet, but would leverage its existing
    relationships with other partners, including Avnet.The news follows
    Cellnet’s decision to offload its IBM business to rival player, Avnet.
    Lexmark finds Cellnet replacement
    New distie, Dynamic Supplies, aims to bring on more IT resellers
    vendor, Lexmark, has brought on tech distributor, Dynamic Supplies, as
    its replacement for Cellnet.Cellnet cut its ties with Lexmark in late
    June as part of its winding up Australian IT operations.Dynamic
    Supplies was originally a Lexmark distributor of toner and ink
    products, but will expand its range to include the vendor’s hardware
    range.Lexmark channel and SMB manager, Stephen Bell, said the strategic
    move allowed the vendor to use Dynamic Supplies’ targeted resellers
    while boosting Lexmark’s geographical coverage and support.“They will
    get us into parts of the market where we haven’t had as high a
    penetration as we would have liked. They give us some additional reach
    into SMB, which is an area that’s growing really strongly for us,” Bell
    said. “There’s probably increased support for WA and Queensland.”

    said the vendor’s existing distributor relationships strongly
    influenced the eventual choice.“Because of the fact that we’ve got
    really good relationships with both Ingram Micro and Altech, which are
    our other two hardware distributors, we didn’t want to make a decision
    where we just cut the pie up. And by virtue of Dynamics sort of getting
    us into a new market space we have the ability to grow by making this

    But both Bell and Dynamic Supplies’ managing
    director, Scott McLennan, agreed there would be no limitation on the
    type of reseller Dynamic Supplies sells to.“We’re certainly replacing
    Cellnet, but Cellnet did have a distinctly different customer base so
    that’s an opportunity for us to expand our reseller base into what I
    would probably term the ‘IT reseller’,” McLennan said.“Our traditional
    customer base, which is a fairly strong one that buys a lot of
    hardware, is what we call a ‘stationary reseller’.”Although McLennan
    confirmed there was going to be an increase in joint marketing funds,
    he said the distie was looking at a soft marketing approach.“There’ll
    be some marketing promotional programs we will launch with, but they’ll
    probably come out in the next two to three weeks,” he said.

    the distie has high hopes for the new partnership, he had not worked
    out an exact expectation of revenue growth, McLennan said.“We’ve got
    high expectations but we’re not going to force ourselves into a number.
    We’re looking at fairly strong incremental growth. We’ve got big
    plans,” he said.“We have a fairly large business in the consumable
    space so it would be a fairly small percentage increase for us but I
    would say it’s a fairly large percentage increase for our existing
    hardware business.”