By Virginia Harrison, MarketWatch
SYDNEY (MarketWatch) — Japan is on track for an early victory at the London Olympics, as photographers rush to buy top-end cameras, expected to give battered Japanese electronics firms a much-needed boost.
Nomura strategist Tetsuya Wadaki says demand for single reflex lens (SLR) devices will jump as global news-media professionals, among others, upgrade in time for the London games.
“The first half of 2012 is likely to be a season of strong sales of high-end SLR kit used by media photographers in the lead up to the London Olympics,” Wadaki wrote in a research report.
Nikon Corp. /zigman2/quotes/203281219/delayed JP:7731 +2.45% /zigman2/quotes/209396469/delayed NINOY +2.28% and Canon Inc. /zigman2/quotes/207639533/delayed JP:7751 +1.54% /zigman2/quotes/210242912/composite CAJ +0.86% are the dominant SLR players. Louis Capital Markets’ head of Japanese equities Ben Collett said SLR devices have driven these stocks in the past, and the Games could lift sales.
“It’s a similar theme to the World Cup driving demand for 3D televisions, but this is definitely more sound, given the unit cost,” Collett said.
It would come as some relief for the export-focused industry, which has been saddled by a soaring yen and slowing global economy, while some struggle for supplies after massive floods hit manufacturing plants in Thailand.
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Data released from the Camera & Imaging Products Association this month revealed a sharp drop in digital-camera shipments during November 2011, compared to a year earlier.
Global shipment volumes plunged, with falls particularly steep in Europe and the Americas. Japanese digital camera exports dropped 36%.
“The digital-camera market has been starved of supplies owing to flood damage at plants in Thailand belonging to Nikon, Sony [Corp. /zigman2/quotes/201361720/delayed JP:6758 +1.30% /zigman2/quotes/208567357/composite SNE +1.14% ] and shutter manufacturers,” Nomura’s Wadaki said.
“The 2011 Christmas shopping season ended on a sour note for Nikon, Canon, and Sony,” he said.
But a stream of new devices expected to come to market this year may tempt some consumers .
“It’s [largely] about consumer discretionary demand with these kinds of products, and the life cycle,” Louis Capital’s Ben Collett said. “Canon and Nikon have been pretty good at updating their whole product range.”
Canon plans to launch two high-end cameras in March, according to Nomura’s Wadaki, while Nikon is also focused on product development “in time for this shopping season.”