Palm Announces Severe Revenue Shortfall, Big Loss

Palm Inc. said today that it expects revenue for its current financial quarter to be roughly half what it had previously expected. The company estimates revenue will be between $140 and $160 million, compared to its previous estimation of $300 to $315 million. This means the company is now expecting to lose between $170 and $190 million this quarter, compared to the $80 to $85 million it had previously thought. Inventory problems also mean Palm will take a $300 million charge.

This announcement came after the major markets had closed. Shares fell to an all-time low of $5.47 on very heavy volume in after-hours trading.

For comparison, the company reported revenues of $350 million in the same quarter last year and $471 million last quarter.

Palm's CEO gave this explanation, "Our new m500 family of handheld computers is shipping in volume later than we had hoped, precluding the opportunity for distributors, retailers and resellers to reorder in our fourth quarter. In addition, we believe that this delay stalled sales of our existing products in all regions. The shipment delay accounts for the bulk of our reduced revenue outlook and is exacerbated by the slowing economy, which we believe has spread beyond the U.S. In response, we are offering more attractive pricing and promotions on our existing products than we had previously anticipated."

Palm's CEO also said that all the news wasn't bad. They have resolved the problems causing the volume shipment delay and begun shipping the m500 series outside the United States. They expect to have it available in all major markets by the end of June.

They also report positive initial U.S. retail sell-through data on their new products and that several surveys indicate that Palm branded and Palm Powered devices continue to hold or increase Palm's leading share of the handheld market.

In related news, Palm and Extended Systems announced today that they have agreed to cancel their proposed deal for Palm to acquire the mobile infrastructure developer.

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This is what happens when management can't execute.

I.M. Anonymous @ 5/17/2001 6:32:28 PM #
The Three Little Pigs felt safe in their house too until they f-ed up and allowed the Big Bad Wolf blow their house down. Look out Palm, the Wolf is at your door...

RE: This is what happens when management can't execute.
I.M. Anonymous @ 5/17/2001 10:47:58 PM #
Gates must be laughing his head off watching the idiots managing Palm destroy the company for him. Palm will implode within six months because:

1) Their top level staff are incompetent
2) Their products lack innovation
3) Their OS is stagnating
4) They licensed the OS to Handspring and Sony, who have now produced better hardware than Palm
5) Their wireless strategy will fail as "smart" cellphone technology catches on over the next 12 months.
6) The m505 has a low quality screen and will flop
7) Poor sales will force further price cuts, resulting in even lower revenues than expected
8) Palm will not be able to replace the m505 for at least 6 months
9) Their revenues from OS sales are trivial - they need to sell hardware to succeed
10) Their top level staff are VERY incompetent


Expect Yankowski to be fired next week, but it's too little, too late


- The Pundit

RE: This is what happens when management can't execute.
mikecane @ 5/18/2001 8:25:17 AM #
I would dispute the quality of the m505 screen. After reading all of the griping on the Net for about a week or two, I finally got to see the m505 for myself in 4 out of 6 stores I went to. I was very pleased with the screen and would buy an m505 if I wasn't first waiting to see the new CLIE. Perhaps that's what many other people are doing, hence why m505s are so plentiful in NYC stores (but then, m500s are plentiful too).

As for Palm's management -- you are being very generous in thinking that it has any to begin with! Here we can agree, I think.

RE: This is what happens when management can't execute.
I.M. Anonymous @ 5/18/2001 9:47:19 PM #
Lest facts get in the way. There are two piecese of data that are indicative of how the m5 series is doind. First checkout Wit Capitals market estimate for the week of April 29th it shows a 10% gain forr Palm coming relatively equally out of Handspring and all the Pocket PC crowd. Separately, notice the collapse in sales rank of the Ipaq on Amazon since the intro M505. The one negative is the rating of the M505 it is low due to the screen. Other than that sales indications are good.

Gulp!

pribbernow @ 5/17/2001 6:41:10 PM #
Hmm..Microsoft couldn't kill Palm. But maybe a slowing economy will! Knowing MS, they will probably buy them out.

RE: Gulp!
I.M. Anonymous @ 5/17/2001 11:01:39 PM #
Why the hell would Micro$oft want to buy a bloated company with an aging, non-scalable OS, limited R+D, huge expenses, and little going for it other than a comparatively large installed base?

Gates' only concern would be if Sony bought Palm and turned it into a lean, mean company with more PocketPC-like hardware like the CLIE N710C.

RE: Gulp!
I.M. Anonymous @ 5/17/2001 11:19:34 PM #
> Why the hell would Micro$oft want to buy a bloated company with
> an aging, non-scalable OS, limited R+D, huge expenses, and little
> going for it other than a comparatively large installed base?

That's a good point. Microsoft already has all these features themselves. Buying another company with them would be redundant.

RE: Gulp!
I.M. Anonymous @ 5/18/2001 10:06:33 AM #
Highly unlikely that Microsoft would buy Palm as it would not clear AntiTrust authorities. But it make sense to Microsoft to purchase Palm, stagnate Palm and dominate with Pocket PC. Then they would have a near monopoly in OS for handheld devices.
As to Palm's mistake, it is hiring an outsider as CEO of the company. The CEO had to learn the "ropes" so to speak, and that might have contributed to the numerous missteps Palm had taken. Hopefully, Palm will have learn from it lessons, and produce 'chic' product like the ipaQ and Sony Clie. While m505 is cool, it just lack that certain 'wow' factor that will spur sales and create fashion statements. m505 focused on the functional side not the fashionable side. Sometimes being user friendly is not the end-all. Apple OS had always been easier to use than Microsoft's Windows, but it had to take a "fashionable" iMac to save Apple from collapse.

Would Sony be interested?

I.M. Anonymous @ 5/17/2001 6:41:48 PM #
I know there have been rumors before, but I kind of think that having Sony as a financial/business backer of the Palm OS might not be too bad an idea.

Hong.

Compared to Apple...

I.M. Anonymous @ 5/17/2001 7:23:19 PM #
I think of Palm like I think of Apple Computer. They both produce insanely great devices with easy to use interfaces and loyal supporters.

Look at the number of times Apple screwed things up and came back. I think this is a similar situation.

In fact, it might be identical, isn't the main marketing person at Palm right now the same one that got canned at Apple right before it returned to soaring profits? Wasn't that also for parts shortage and supply screw-ups? Time to can him again and blackball him from the industry methinks.

Funny, people said Sony was going to buy Apple too.

Hrmm, maybe Apple can buy Palm....

RE: Compared to Apple...
I.M. Anonymous @ 5/17/2001 7:29:34 PM #
and then Sony can buy them!

RE: Compared to Apple...
I.M. Anonymous @ 5/17/2001 7:30:06 PM #
and then MSFT can buy them!

RE: Compared to Apple...
I.M. Anonymous @ 5/17/2001 7:30:22 PM #
and don't forget about AOL buying them!

RE: Compared to Apple...
I.M. Anonymous @ 5/17/2001 8:32:25 PM #
and then why not have General Electric buy all of them??!?!!?? :-)

RE: Compared to Apple...
I.M. Anonymous @ 5/17/2001 9:19:49 PM #
Or General Motors? Or Exxon? Or some other company in the Fortune top 10

RE: Compared to Apple...
I.M. Anonymous @ 5/18/2001 8:41:27 AM #
Hell. I'll buy them :-)

Most of the Palm Execs came from pre-Jobs II Apple.
I.M. Anonymous @ 5/19/2001 11:57:18 AM #
Did Jobs fire them/push them out?

Revenue shortfall

Cheetah @ 5/17/2001 7:40:09 PM #
An article pointed at a delayed release of the new products as the primary reason for the revenue shortfall.

Could poor sales of the 500 and 505 also been a big factor...ie. they had the units in the stores, but they didn't sell as well as expected.

Although the 500 and 505 were not in stores much of their quarter, all the plans I ever heard about product release dates were dead accurate with the actual ship dates.

I hope Palm doesn't cut back on R&D!



RE: Revenue shortfall
Ed @ 5/17/2001 8:24:19 PM #
> Could poor sales of the 500 and 505 also been a big factor...ie. they had
> the units in the stores, but they didn't sell as well as expected.

Read paragraph six again. "They also report positive initial U.S. retail sell-through data on their new products." In financialese, that means the m500 series is selling like hotcakes.

If your first impression is to disbelieve this, consider Palm said it in the same breath as admitting that they are having big revenue problems. Clearly, Palm isn't hiding anything if they are making an announcement that has sent their stock price into the dumpster.

---
News Editor
Palm Infocenter

RE: Revenue shortfall
Autometic @ 5/17/2001 11:39:28 PM #
I just read the below message from the CCO of Palm.

I think some information is missing here.... The Financial quarter ends when ? I believe it is in May. So yes, the M50x series have not had their full impact as yet, some of the pre-orders must have been accounted for as deferred profits, another nice financial tool to fool the investors since deferred profits are only profits once they really arrive...

Now, in their announcement, they say:

"The shipment delay accounts for the bulk of our reduced revenue outlook and is exacerbated by the slowing economy, which we believe has spread beyond the U.S."

But at the same time it says above:
"Palm's CEO also said that all the news wasn't bad. They have resolved the causing the volume shipment delay and begun shipping the m500 series outside the United States. They expect to have it available in all major markets by the end of June."

Now, if the economy is realy slowing (who doubts it still...?) and it has spread beyond the U.S. (meaning Europe), which means reduced sales-outlook outside of Europe, how can the CEO say that the news isn't all that bad because shipments have started to other countries....???

To me this is obvious... clearly Palm will have problems in Europe as well. They have never said that next quarter will be good. If they were really convinced of next quarter being better, they WOULD have announced that, by saying something to the effect of shipments being delayed, therefore earnings are delayed. This is TRUE financial talk.

Whatever was said can only mean one thing, the M50x series is not selling as they were hoping.

Also, the analysts comments whether or not Palm will run out of cash is frightening,if this impacts R&D then they will become the next Rambus...own the proprietory information and zero sales, just live of license revenues... good night palm...


I wonder what their "several surveys" are based on. Are these surveys amngst consumers or amongst resellers such as Staples ??? The product has not been long enough on the market to say these things. There are always people rushing out to buy the first products out there (I for one will be the same when the Handera hits home). How many M500's were returned to Staples and Office Depot within the first 2 weeks ? How does this impact the sales ? Is that part of the high inventory - brand new products ?????? That would really be scary.


Palm has been playing the same game as most other companies over the past year, push [products out the door and let resellers / distributors hold the inventory. Now that these are overstocked, orders were stopped or have slowed (quite logically and I am still wondering why they let themselves get into this situation).

Q: If the products (M50x) are really shipping everywhere now, WHY did Palm not announce that earnings would be back in line?

A: Blame it on the "slowing economy", that is an another way of saying that sales are down because they have mucked up their sales forecast...


Q: What does this mean: "They also report positive initial U.S. retail sell-through data on their new products and that several surveys indicate that Palm branded and Palm Powered devices continue to hold or increase Palm's leading share of the handheld market."


A: NOT necessarily HIGHER sales but HIGHER market share maybe. If they blame everything on a slowing economy, then theoretically, the overall market is down. Could be that the sales are down while market share is up (big drop in sales from winCE products, which was discussed before - a potential problem for Compaq to maintain the high sales figures in Europe which could have materialised, again, because of the slowing economy).

oh yes, forgot to mention this:
Palm Chief Financial Officer Judy Bruner, declined to discuss the exact cash position, but said that managing cash was a priority. She said the company would provide further information in June, when Palm reports its quarterly results.

``Cash will be tight and cash preservation will the number one be a priority for us right now, and there is a possibility that we will seek to raise capital,'' she said.

So, what about R&D ??????????????????????


I was an avid PalmIIIx user I was "dying" to wait and see the new products. My mind is made up, I rather spend $450 on a Handera with 64mByte CF card than a color Palm at the same price. It would not surprise me if Sony will take away sales from Palm or WinCE products... who know, I guess we wil find out in another 3 months when Palm annouces their net quarter earnings or earnings warning/shortfall....

Good luck Palm, hope you make it...



To help you understand...

Michael @ 5/17/2001 7:52:48 PM #
Folks,

At the risk of getting flamed, I wanted to give a little perspective on what's happening with our business and what it all means.

When you get too much inventory built up in the dealer channel, you have to more or less stop shipping products while you wait for the stuff that's in the stores to sell off. Products are still being sold out of the stores, but you're not selling a lot of additional products into them. As a result, your reported sales drop very low.

That's what Palm is doing at the moment. Dealers aren't yet ordering a lot of the older products because they some of them. And we could not ship enough of the new products to make up the difference.

So the sales of Palm the hardware company look really low, even though a lot of people are still buying our products. The economy has obviously had an impact on the business, but according to most third-party studies the retail market share of Palm Powered handhelds is still very strong overall, and I feel good about the future once we get the inventory sold through.

That's not to make any excuses, or to act casually about our financial loss. Anytime a company loses money, it's a bad thing and those of us who work at Palm are responsible. But I wanted to say that I think the speculation about Palm's viability is way off the mark.

Mike
CCO
Palm, Inc.


RE: To help you understand...
I.M. Anonymous @ 5/17/2001 8:08:18 PM #
Does the COO of Palm actually make public comments on web sites? I wonder....

RE: To help you understand...
Reed @ 5/17/2001 9:05:03 PM #
I am also suprised that the Chief Communications Officer of Palm would defend Palm on this web site, not that I don't think highly of it.

Anywho, I think that another reason Palm's profits were hurt was because they announced the m500 series a couple of months before it actually came out. Thus, people withheld purchasing any of the existing Palm lines to wait for these newer, improved models. Another issue going forward for them is the controversy regarding the quality of one of their flagship products, the m505. I feel that people expected a better quality color screen which seems to be reflected in many of the comments on this web site. The PDA market is very competitive and even one mistep can lead to loss of market share to the other competitors, such as Handspring, Sony and now HandEra, not to mention the Pocket PC and Psion groups. Providing innovative, superior products at a competitive price will win market share and give the company profits. I hope that Palm also focuses on improving their operating system and encourages other companies to innovate, so that the entire Palm PDA market grows.

RE: To help you understand...
I.M. Anonymous @ 5/17/2001 9:17:29 PM #
If things really aren't that bad for palm, why would the cco feel need to perform damage control...on a web site discussion!

This is bogus. don't feed the trolls :)

Michael is legit
I.M. Anonymous @ 5/17/2001 10:16:25 PM #
Michael has responded to stuff on PalmInfoCenter before... the guy is legit. Sheesh, I know that there have been a few hoax posters as of late (m505 contrast hack, anyone?), but don't assume that everyone with new information is a troll!

The fact that he's explaining himself on one of the most popular Palm discussion boards on the net shouldn't be total surprise (way to go Ed on having a great site). If there's one thing that good business managers know, it's that it is important to maintain good relations with your customers. Those of us that frequent the various Palm-related website tend to be the loyalists to the brand, and we could easily become disillusioned by bad news (certainly, we could become overly-disillusioned in the positive direction as well). Consequently, posting information to help ease any of our concerns for Palm is, frankly, an incredibly smart moove.

Yes, Palm has made some mistakes, but thankfully Michael didn't gloss over those errors. When a company screws up it's important to remember some of the other business ventures that had bad times, but turned out okay. When Disneyland opened in 1955, there weren't enough drinking fountains, the lines were insanely long, rides were breaking down, and women's heels were sinking into the asphalt. The media reported it as being a disaster, and felt that a media giant like Disney should have known better. Forty-six years later, no one is calling Disneyland a disaster.

If you need an example from the PalmOS world, remember that Handspring had horrid customer service and shipping problems to begin with. Many thought they wouldn't survive with such poor service and (heaven forbid) a device that couldn't be upgraded through Flash. Yes, their sales are down too, but they seem to be doing fine.

Michael, thanks for explaining out Palm's side of the issue, and to everyone else: the sky isn't falling.

RE: To help you understand...
I.M. Anonymous @ 5/17/2001 10:32:12 PM #
Having a full channel is not the end of the world. That issue can be fixed. Having $300 million in losses is not good but I think the main issue is the end of the XTND deal. That should have helped PALM with their entry in to businesses where the margins are. Now the question is how can PALM raise margins? Selling boxes is not the way.

ATT: Mike, CCO of Palm Inc.
I.M. Anonymous @ 5/17/2001 11:13:05 PM #
Gates must be laughing his head off watching the idiots managing Palm destroy the company for him. Palm will implode within six months because:

1) Their top level staff are incompetent
2) Their products lack innovation
3) Their OS is stagnating
4) They licensed the OS to Handspring and Sony, who have now produced better hardware than Palm
5) Their wireless strategy will fail as "smart" cellphone technology catches on over the next 12 months.
6) The m505 has a low quality screen and will flop
7) Poor sales will force further price cuts, resulting in even lower revenues than expected
8) Palm will not be able to replace the m505 for at least 6 months
9) Their revenues from OS sales are trivial - they need to sell hardware to succeed
10) Their top level staff are VERY incompetent

TELL YOUR BOSSES THIS IF THEY HAVEN'T BEEN FIRED YET.

RE: To help you understand...
I.M. Anonymous @ 5/17/2001 11:22:40 PM #
I know you're full of yourself, but get off our board and stop wasting everyone's time. thanks.

RE: To help you understand...
I.M. Anonymous @ 5/18/2001 12:01:59 AM #

Hey Mike,

If you're for real, thanks for the info. Want to do something useful for your customers? Encourage your company to produce a Contrast/Brightness fix for the m505, and soon.

Thanks.

-Mike

RE: To help you understand...the risk of getting flamed
MadMax @ 5/18/2001 12:13:13 AM #
Damn it. Hey kid, Where's my lighter?

RE: To help you understand...
I.M. Anonymous @ 5/18/2001 12:44:01 AM #
Mike sounds like Michael Mace, Cheif Competitive Officer for palm. He knows his s**it. REALLY knows his s**t.

Ask yourself: Are we going back to the days where connected people use typwriters and letters to conduct business? No. We live in an electronic world. Palm is in a very good position to go forward in such an electronic world.

Let's all settle down. Palm will ride this one out, and be a stronger compnay once these issues are straightened out.



Dear Michael Mace: How are your stock options lookin'???
I.M. Anonymous @ 5/18/2001 9:28:33 AM #
Don't spend it all in one place!

Palm Store server capacity sucks.
I.M. Anonymous @ 5/18/2001 9:34:20 AM #
Anyone try to buy something from the Palm Store via web? It sucks - it just freezes and is SLOW. In comparison, DELL Computer does $1M PER DAY of business on their site and it is always humming. Palm better realize that all of these little buyer frustrations add up and piss off buyers.

RE: To help you understand...
I.M. Anonymous @ 5/18/2001 9:50:25 AM #
DELL is not doing that well either, they expect revenue to decline and they are in a serious price war with compaq and other pc makers.

Dell is sitting on $5+BILLION in CASH. That's more than
I.M. Anonymous @ 5/18/2001 9:59:26 AM #
Palm's entire market cap (value of entire company). Dell is a lean, mean, smart company with great management. Their market share in every market segment trends UP. Dell is destroing their competition by initiating the price war.

Please don't comment on things you know nothing about.

Maybe Palm should have stayed under the 3COM umbrella
I.M. Anonymous @ 5/18/2001 10:09:11 AM #
for a few more years???

RE: To help you understand...
I.M. Anonymous @ 5/18/2001 10:38:33 AM #
That's really cool if Micheal really is the CCO Palm and posts on this site. I just figured most companies did stuff like this through press releases and didn't make public comments like this. It's be nice there was a way to verify that this is indeed who he says he is so in the future (and maybe with other important Palm industry people who post) we know who to believe. Maybe with a icon next to their name when the post {Ed verified? =) }
Awesome site. Thanks.

RE: To help you understand...
I.M. Anonymous @ 5/18/2001 10:43:22 AM #
I meant 'Michael.' Darn typos. I hadn't seen or remembered him posting before so sorry for not believing him right away.
I also don't think Palm is going under but they do need to work on their Mac support a little. MyPalm and their Desktop software for Mac are both lagging behind.

RE: To help you understand...
I.M. Anonymous @ 5/18/2001 12:10:32 PM #
Mike>When you get too much inventory built up in the dealer channel
*****************
Maybe Palm does some Window dressing in the previous quater by pushing too much products into the retail channel.

Mike>according to most third-party studies the retail market share of Palm Powered handhelds is still very strong overall
**************
Only because Pocket Pc manufacturer like Compaq is backlogged, and that Palm is also targetting the lower-end (and less lucrative) market.

Mike>I feel good about the future once we get the inventory sold through.
*****************
Hopefully, but Palm should do a better job "packaging" its product, a new and hot product like the m505, should be sold-out and backordered, but I don't see that happening yet.


RE: To help you understand...
Michael @ 5/18/2001 12:20:56 PM #
Folks,

I'm Chief Competitive Officer at Palm, and yeah this is me speaking. Ed dropped me a note to double-check, so he can verify that.

Thanks for asking -- it's good that you folks are being thorough.

I won't try to excuse our financial situation to the people who are criticizing us; the only proper response is to fix the problem, which we will.

To respond to a couple of questions (some paraphrased):


>Why would a manager from Palm spend time responding to discussions on a board?

Because it is the easiest way for me to talk directly to our customers and potential customers. Even more important, you folks are the opinion setters. You matter. Most of the press people I speak with are great, but they all filter even if they don't mean to.

If you care enough to give us advice online, it makes sense for us to listen and (when we can free up the time) respond. You should also know that we do read your advice and forward it internally, even when we don't have time to respond.


>The m500 and m505 were announced too early, stalling Palm's sales.

I think most of us agree with this. We thought the production ramp would go faster, and wanted to get the PR boost of announcing at CeBIT. It was a calculated risk we understood at the time, and the calculation was wrong.


>What's your approach to enterprise now that the Extended Systems acquisition was called off?

That's a longer discussion than I have time to cover comprehensively this morning, but I'll try to give a quick summary. Enterprises have a huge diversity of computing environments -- not just Microsoft but also Sun, Siebel, SAP, Oracle, etc, etc. Ultimately what a company needs is a handheld platform that makes a great client to all those computing environments. We think we are the best platform for that today, and want to build on it. One way to do that is to buy a company that pulls it all together, but it's not by any means the only way to make it happen.


>"The m505 has a poor quality screen and will flop"

Now I will really get flamed.

The m505 does not have a low quality screen. It was designed to be the thinnest, lightest color handheld on the market. It is, by far. Considering that it also has an expansion slot, I think it's an outstanding value. Period.

Is it the ideal product for everyone? Of course not. We deliberately traded off some screen brightness to get thinness and light weight. I like the tradeoff, but other folks may not. Designing a handheld is all about making tradeoffs. I was pretty up front about those tradeoffs even before the m505 was released, in posts I made online.

I think our hardware team knew what it was doing. They are not always trying to design for the elite folks who post most vigorously online; remember how much online skepticism there was about the m100, and then it sold great and brought a lot of new customers to the handheld market.

The whole reason we did licensing was so you'd get freedom of choice. If you like another Palm Powered product better than the m505, that's cool. It doesn't say anything bad about the Palm-branded hardware; it just says that the Palm-branded stuff was designed for somebody with different preferences than you.

In fact, the thing that would really disappoint me would be if every Palm Powered handheld looked exactly the same. That would mean we're not all driving freedom of choice and innovation.


Thanks for listening,

Mike
CCO
Palm, Inc.


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