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4. Hewlett-Packard (NASDAQ: HPQ - News) announced earnings on August 18, and its shares promptly dropped to a 5-year low. HP also revised earnings forecasts down. Management said it may spin off the firm's PC division, the largest in the world. So far, there are no takers. HP also discontinued its Palm operating system, which it bought only a year ago, and its tablet PC product. Investors believe, almost universally, that CEO Léo Apotheker does not have the strengths of his predecessor Mark V. Hurd, who was pushed out for ethical lapses. Wall St. seems certain that HP will lay off more people in addition to the sharp cuts it made in 2009 and 2010. It is generally accepted by analysts who cover the company that it has begun to lose the battles against Dell (NASDAQ: DELL - News), Oracle (NYSE: ORCL - News), and SAP (NYSE: SAP - News) .
5. The U.S. Postal Service may be more troubled than any large public company in America. The organization said it may lose as much as $10 billion this year. It teeters on the brink of insolvency. Its workers' compensation liability is more than $12 billion. The USPS management has suggested it shutter thousands of individual post offices, layoff as many as 200,000 workers, and close over 250 service centers. Another suggestion by management is that delivery be cut to five days a week. The rise of the use of e-mail and private air freight companies Fedex (NYSE: FDX - News) and UPS (NYSE: UPS - News) has doomed the old post office model. No one should expects that the suggestions of executives at USPS will go unchallenged. The American Postal Workers Union most likely will strike to fight the job cuts. Individual Congresspersons will press to keep offices open in their districts.
6. Nintendo's once nearly insurmountable lead in the video console sector has been lost, and its sales have fallen further and further behind rivals Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT - News) and Sony (NYSE: SNE - News). The rise of the Google (NASDAQ: GOOG - News) Android operating system has also encouraged video game publishers to make more products that run on that platform. The 2010 market share of Nintendo DS fell from 70% in 2009 to 57%. Nintendo's growth has also been damaged by the rise of the iPad and iPhone. The future is even grimmer. "iSuppli predicts Nintendo will sell 70 million 3DS gaming systems by 2015, a figure that is 21 million less than the 91 million in sales racked up by the original DS at the same point in its sales cycle," according to the Unofficial Apple Weblog. Nintendo announced an unexpected quarterly loss on July 28, and its shares plunged 20%. The stock is down from a 52-week high of 26,780 yen to 11,850 yen. In late 2007, shares reached 80,000 yen.
7. Cisco (NASDAQ: CSCO - News) was one of the world's greatest tech companies not long ago. Long-time CEO John Chambers made a series of decisions to expand Cisco beyond its core router business then. Very few of them paid off. Part of his plan was to diversify into the consumer electronics business, which weakened Cisco's overall earnings strength. The company now makes TV set-top boxes, Linksys wi-fi hardware and home video-conferencing products. Chambers has been forced to reverse course, sell or cut back these operations and lay off 6,500 workers to make up for the losses caused by the diversification. Chambers's job status is still in question. He lowered Cisco's revenue forecasts recently to a growth rate of 3% to 5% for the next three years. Cisco's newer businesses are not its only challenge though. The company has barely kept pace in the router business with China-based Huawei Technologies and Juniper (NYSE: JNPR - News). In April a year ago, shares in Cisco traded for $28. The number is $16.50 now.
8. Eastman Kodak's (NYSE: EK - News) run as a public company may be over soon. That would put the jobs of many of its 18,000 employees in jeopardy. Analysts think Kodak's patents may be worth much more than that the company. Kodak has begun the process to find a buyer for these patents. MDB Capital Group told Bloomberg that the digital-imaging patents owned by Kodak may be valued at $3 billion in a sale. A sale of patents could mean Kodak will not keep all of its divisions. Second quarter sales at the company were down 5% in the past quarter to $1.5 billion. Kodak lost $179 million in the same time period. Its Film, Photofinishing and Entertainment Group sales dropped 14% to $369 million for the quarter. This is the area of the company's business where it would be logical to start the next phase in a long line of lay-offs. Kodak's cash position has become desperate. It has $957 million on hand compared to $1.624 billion at the end of the second quarter a year ago.
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