Panbo

Navman 8120, is the "C120 killer" dead?

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Apr 28, 2006

Navman 8120  Merc copyright Panbo lr

I don’t know why I haven’t mentioned the Navman 8120 before, because I surely was impressed when I had a chance to fool with it last December. But now it’s particularly noteworthy as the company supposedly has a “For Sale” sign on the door (s). Navman has good online dope on this single station multifunction display that was reportedly dubbed the “C120 Killer” during development, and for now I’ll just note that it really does challenge Raymarine on features and value. What I want to point out today is how very neatly it interfaces with SmartCraft, i.e. Mercury and Cummins engines built by Brunswick. Check out bigger versions of the screen above, and below. Navman told me they don’t like comparing that “Troll control” to cruise control, but have you ever seen anything like that on a plotter/fishfinder/radar? Cool stuff.

Now some questions. If you were buying electronics next week, or advising someone about it (as I know many of you do), would you go for a company that is in transition, even if its product looks terrific? That’s why Brunswick’s announcement seems strange, even dumb. But, what if we learn next week or next month that Navman and Northstar will soon belong to a large and respectable marine electronics company that has never offered navigation gear before? That might seem smart indeed. Have a great weekend.

Navman 8120 Smartcraft copyright Panbo lr

Comments

I think you're not entirely understanding the corporate earnings issues here. The CEO had to announce lower earnings, not a good thing. To mitigate the negative effect of that announcement, he chose to also announce selling off what he considers to be an unstrategic and/or underperforming unit. He is saying to the market "yes our earnings were down, but we're on top of it and and taking the appropriate steps to correct the problem." The market immediately has to revaluate the company without Northstar/Navman. This headline from Reuter's is what the CEO hoped to achieve "UPDATE - Brunswick net falls; divestiture, buyback lift shares".

The company had no doubt already engaged an investment banker to sell the unit and may even be in discussions with potential acquirers. Assuming they conclude a sale in the next 2-3 months the announcement will have zero affect on the price they will get when they sell the unit. Any effect on short term sales at Northstar/Navman is not a big concern to them. So maybe from their CEO's position it's no so "strange or even dumb". And no, I'm no affiliated with either Brunswick or any investment bank.

With regard to the future of the company and it's products, I think it's questionable. Raymarine will certainly not buy them. A Swedish private equity group bought Simrad et al so they will endeavor to strengthen the company so they realize a profit when they eventually take it public or sell it to someone else. So that begs the question of who will buy Northstar/Navman; somebody that can and will nuture it, or squander the property?

Another private equity company?

Furuno? Not likely in my opinion.

Garmin? Pretty far afield from their core product lines in my opinion; they would have to be committing to get into the instruments business and manage multiple brands.

It would be a ballsy move for Tack-Tick if they could raise the capital to make the purchase. With proper brand management it would instantly make them an "A" player. There is a fair amount of investment capital available in Europe right now so it's a possibility, but I'm not sure if their management could manage the merger.

Jeppesen? It would make Nobeltec a real player instead of company with one foot in software and one not very credible toe in hardware. It would sort of be the same deal that Furuno / Maxsea did, but from the other direction. Jeppesen certainly has the money and management expertise. They could re-brand it as Jeppesen Marine and have real credibility.

Just stream of thought, but that's what blogs are for right?

Posted by: Russ at April 29, 2006 5:08 AM | Reply

Actually, Russ, I listened to some of the quarterly conference call yesterday. It kind of amazed me that the CFO presented two sets of numbers, the second being as if BNT had already been sold, which he said would eventually become the official numbers. Is that magic accounting?

I do think you have an interesting thought re: Jeppesen. The Nobeltec and Northstar engineers already have some history together working on the 972.

I'm not sure I've mentioned it on Panbo but I understand that the filings for the Simrad/Lowrance deal indicate that both Raymarine and Garmin made offers for Lowrance.

Posted by: Ben at April 29, 2006 5:39 AM | Reply

I see two scenarios that might happen.

1) A Jeppesen deal. They own the aviation data market. When they become serious, watch out C-Map and Navionics. Jepp has worked with Northstar before.

2) A Raymarine deal. Raymarine may want to be in on land, and Navman is there. Perhaps the marine division would be sold to someone else, hmmm, perhaps Jeppesen.

Posted by: Anonymous at May 9, 2006 7:06 AM | Reply

Well, I'll add a couple of more I've heard:

3) KVH buys BNT and uses Navman land navigation gear to expand its automobile line and Northstar to complement its marine communications products (and gets back at Raymarine for introducing a Sat. TV system).

4) Garmin buys BNT; Navman improves its land presence in Europe and Northstar leapfrogs them into bigger boats and the dealer/installer network.

Posted by: Ben at May 9, 2006 9:53 PM | Reply

Leave a comment