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Disney’s China Parks Facing Both Growth and Competition

Disneyland is going strong in Hong Kong as the theme park posted its first annual profit since its opening seven years ago.  Attendance set a record of 6.7 million visitors, up 13% from a year ago. The park, which is 52% owned by the local government and 48% owned by Walt Disney (NYSE:$DIS), swung to profit of $15.05 million (HK$109 million) for the fiscal year ended Sep-2012 from a loss of $30.56 million (HK$ 237 million) in 2011.  This is a significant turnaround considering the difficulty we saw in the Chinese economy in 2012 that saw gaming revenues in Macau slow down.  Revenues went up by 18% to $550 million while resort occupancy per 1000 rooms increased by 1 point to 92%. Not a bad year for a park that has been under serious criticism for the past year. But, just in time given the 2015 projected opening for Shanghai Disneyland.disneylandhk

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Fraser & Neave Finally Fully Valued as Deal Closes

Sukhothai-thailandThailand’s richest man Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi is all set to become even richer as the drama surrounding the acquisition of the Singapore’s property and drinks conglomerate Fraser & Neave (NASDAQOTH:$FNEVF) finally came to an end when Charoen’s rival bidder, a consortium of investors led by the son of the famed Indonesia based billionaire Mochtar Riady decided to drop out. Stephen Riady and his firm Overseas Union Group decided not to raise its offer when Charoen’s privately held firm.  TCC Assets raised its bid for the stake F&N it did not already own to $7.78 (S$ 9.55) per share valuing the company at $11.19 billion. Since th beginning of 2012, TCC Assets owned 30% stake in F&N. In September, it came forward with its takeover bid valued at $7.24 per share as it purchased an additional 10% shares of F&N. A rival bid by Overseas Union Group prompted TCC Assets to raise its call and the latter finally ended up making an offer which was 5.2% above Overseas Union’s bid that valued F&N at $10.60 billion.

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Panasonic’s 4K Gamble Slightly Ahead of the Competition

TC-L65WT600_2_400fTo say that Japan’s leading consumer electronics manufacturer Panasonic (NYSE:$PC) has been struggling in the past couple of years would be an understatement.  Having completely misread the market on consumer electronics trends it now finds itself in very dangerous territory. The rise of Apple (NASDAQ:$AAPL) and the South Korean duo Samsung (SSNLF.PK) and LG Electronics have brought with it the fall of several Japanese electronics giants such as Sharp (SHCAY.PK), Canon (NYSE:$CAJ) and in this case, Panasonic, who has already slashed its workforce by more than one-fifth. At the recent Consumer Electronics Show 2013 held in Las Vegas, the company’s president Kazuhiro Tsuga hinted at a possible closure of business units in the future, without giving any specifications. In its last fiscal year for the 12 months ending March-2012, the company swung to an operating loss of $5.808 billion from an operating profit of $3.025 billion in the year before. Nothing at this point will alter another year of these kinds of losses.

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HTC’S Future Lies with Windows Phone

HTC Windows Phone 8X designTaiwanese smartphone manufacturer HTC Corp, once a leader in Android-based smartphones has seriously stumbled in the past 2 years, ceding that title to the Samsung juggernaut. Its recent earnings release for the fourth quarter showed the business’s profits sliding by 90% to just $34.47 million or NT$1 billion which fell from NT$10.9 billion ($134.44 million) in the same quarter a year ago. Revenues fell from $3.49 billion a year ago to $2.07 billion, a greater than 40% drop.  They have lost the upper end of the Android market and now will need to compete in the smaller, but growing Windows Phone arena.

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Alliances in China’s Search Engine Wars Being Made

baidu-100031709-galleryBaidu (NASDAQ:$BIDU), the largest Chinese search engine, is reportedly working on developing a new image search feature which will be able to recognize facial appearance, similar to what Google’s (NASDAQ:$GOOG) “Find My Face” does in Google+.  Baidu’s users will be able to upload an image of any popular person or a celebrity and the search engine will find other images from the internet of that person. In essence, users can search through images or URLs instead of the traditional textual input.  While this is a great feature for Baidu to have developed in case China’s government and Google ever kiss and make up, Baidu is feeling the heat of competition from behind the Great Firewall.

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Peter Pham is an author, international fund manager, and a registered financial director by the Cayman Monetary Authority (CIMA). In 2013 he published his first book entitled, The Big Trade: Simple Strategies for Maximum Market Returns. He currently manages the portfolio of a global hedge fund and runs an asset management company, Phoenix Capital.  (read more)

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