Garmin, Harman Shares Hit 2012 Lows
06/11/2012| 06:15pm US/Eastern
Shares of global-positioning system providers Garmin Ltd. (>> Garmin Ltd.) and Harman International Industries Inc. (HAR) on Monday traded near their lows for 2012 after Apple Inc. (>> Apple Inc.) unveiled a feature-rich map service that threatens to knock them off more drivers' dashboards.
Apple's new map app includes three-dimensional renderings and turn-by-turn navigation to broaden the software's appeal. In addition, the consumer electronics heavyweight announced plans to include its voice-recognition software, known as Siri, in automobiles to allow drivers to get information "hands-free."
The developments represent the latest challenge to Garmin and Harman, both of which saw sales peak in fiscal 2008 before the worldwide economic slowdown and the rise of smartphones--with increasingly sophisticated GPS and mapping apps--chipped away at their top line.
A spokesman for Garmin said that the company has been "competing successfully" with free navigation on phones running Google Inc.'s (>> Google Inc) Android operating system as well as from third-party apps on the iPhone for a couple of years, adding it's too early to evaluate the new iOS feature.
Representatives for Harman were unavailable for comment Monday. Analysts have suggested that smartphones and tablets could take over the so-called auto infotainment function in vehicles, displacing the navigation-system makers.
Shares of Garmin slumped 8.6% to $38.20 Monday and hit a low of $37.82 for 2012. The stock already was under pressure Monday after Oppenheimer raised concerns about the lingering effects from the economic weakness in Europe, but the selloff accelerated during Apple's annual Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco.
Garmin's automotive and mobile division is the company's largest revenue contributor.
Over the past year, Garmin shares and sales have risen as stronger performances in Garmin's other businesses--outdoor, fitness and marine, and aviation--have offset declines in its portable navigation device segment. Before Monday, Garmin shares had risen 31.5% since September.
Likewise, Harman saw similar gains over that period, rising 40% between September and Monday. The company had benefited from increased sales of its products for luxury cars as well as its stereo, audio and recording equipment. On Monday, the stock fell 5.2% to $38 and hit an intraday bottom of $37.90, near its 2012 low of $37.58.
Morgan Stanley, which initiated coverage on Harman's stock at underweight earlier this year, noted then that smartphones and tablets already incorporate the basic hardware, software and functionality that can be found in an automotive infotainment system and can be integrated directly into the vehicle at very little additional cost to the auto maker or the customer.
One example coming to the European market later this year is the 2013 Mercedes-Benz A-Class, which Morgan Stanley said will have iPhone integration capabilities, including the ability to use Siri.
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-Joan Solsman contributed to this report