As investors, we often give up on companies that fall out of favor, particularly in the consumer good business. Dominant brands can quickly fall by the wayside as technology changes, new brands emerge, or even if they get so big they can only fall.
Three electronics companies suffered a downfall in recent years but are now slowly emerging from the stock market rubble as investors eye their possible turnarounds. Sony Corporation (NYSE:SNE) , Nokia Corporation (NYSE:NOK) , and Hewlett-Packard Company (NYSE:HPQ) are all trying to make a comeback after their stocks all fell more than 50% and missteps plagued each company.
But recent weeks and months have seen a small comeback, and for the moment they have a little momentum on their side. So, will it last?
The return of Sony... maybe Sony was once the dominant electronics retailer in the world, selling everything from its iconic Walkman to flat-screen TVs. But Sony missed out on the electronic music revolution Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) created with the iPod, and eventually both TVs and PCs took a hit when lower-margin competitors entered the market.
Sony's sales didn't nosedive during the 2000s, but the bottom line took a huge hit over the past few years as the company searched for a path forward.
Right now, investors seem to be happy things aren't getting worse. Sony managed a small operating profit in the fiscal second quarter and the hope is that financial results will turn around over the next year.
But the challenge for Sony is the same as it is for most fallen electronics companies. Sony needs to come out with a few killer products that consumers are dying to have. It's what Apple did to take the music business from Sony and it's what Samsung has done to take huge share in smartphones.
Sony's stock may be up 57% from its low, but the company is far from relevant again. Sony needs to make big, bold moves to get back into consumers' hearts.
Nokia fights back I'll admit I was the one dissenting vote when fellow Fools Sean Williams, Alex Planes, and I debated Nokia back in August. Since we made an outperform call, our pick has outperformed the market by 29 points and investors who followed suit have been rewarded.
The key driver to Nokia's surging stock price is sales of the Lumia smartphone. Earlier this month the company said it shipped 4.4 million of the devices in the fourth quarter, which was a slight uptick from a quarter earlier. A slight uptick may not sound great, but after a nosedive in earlier quarters, it's progress.