By Virginia Harrison, MarketWatch
In the compact camera market, Panasonic Corp. /zigman2/quotes/201785256/delayed JP:6752 +1.76% , Sony and Olympus Corp. /zigman2/quotes/200860615/delayed JP:7733 +1.64% /zigman2/quotes/206207642/delayed OCPNY +0.62% are among the leading names vying for market share.
Nomura’s Wadaki said that Panasonic has “won plaudits for its designs and has also been successful in making its cameras smaller,” while Sony seeks to differentiate on image quality.
“Despite Nikon’s brand clout, it has not been able to make its products a hit in Japan, but while it does not rank in the top three of manufacturers in this category, it appears to have made gradual market-share gains,” Wadaki said.
But CLSA strategist Christian Dinwoodie points to strong demand signals across Asia for the camera sector.
“Rising wealth levels, increased travel, conspicuous consumption and social-networking picture-and-video sharing are driving digital SLR demand in Asia ex-Japan,” Dinwoodie wrote in a research report.
He identifies Nikon, Canon and Tamron Co. /zigman2/quotes/209602378/delayed JP:7740 -1.40% as the major beneficiaries of growing interest in photography.
Dinwoodie expects the interchangeable-lens camera market to grow 30% in 2012, driven by “emerging-market demand growth, as well as entry level digital SLR … enticing former compact-camera users to trade up.”
The sector is looking for a brighter year than the last.
Shares in Canon lost 19% in 2011 and Ricoh plunged 44%, while Nikon managed a 4% gain a Tamron added 10%.
Other leading electronics firms with camera exposure fared worse in 2011: Casio Computer Co. /zigman2/quotes/202492162/delayed JP:6952 -2.09% /zigman2/quotes/206719136/delayed CSIOY -2.00% lost 29%, Panasonic slumped 43%, and Sony tumbled 53%.
Meanwhile, Olympus has been dominating headlines after the firm admitted to covering up massive investment losses. The scandal sent shares in a tailspin, losing nearly 60% of their value last year.
Olympus has filed lawsuits against 19 current and former executives, reports Tuesday said, seeking billions of yen in compensation as the fallout from the scandal continues to deepen. See report on Olympus lawsuits.