Wacom’s sales dip in latest quarter

Manufacturer says disruptions from earthquake are over

By Gordon Oliver, Columbian business editor

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Wacom Co., a manufacturer of touch-based graphic tablets and pens with U.S. operations headquartered in Vancouver, reported a 21 percent year-over-year drop in U.S. sales and 6.2 percent drop worldwide for the fiscal quarter ending June 30. The company recorded about $21.2 million in U.S. sales and $92.3 million worldwide for the quarter.

The Japanese company’s quarterly earnings report, issued last week, attributed the drop to the lingering impact of the March 11 Japan earthquake on manufacturing, the rising value of the Japanese yen, and a change in its product line that dampened sales.

Sales of its Cintiq tablets dropped by 12 percent, due to a shortage of LCD panels used in the professional line. The March 11 earthquake and a steady stream of aftershocks forced a curtailment of production of the LCD panels, but Wacom said disruptions to its supply chain ended in June. Sales of the company’s consumer-orientedBamboo series increased 3 percent, the company said.

While the European Union’s credit crisis put a dent in European sales, Wacom said its sales grew in emerging markets including China and India. It said that smartphones, tablet devices and e-books are raising demand for the company’s pen and touch technologies.

The company also reported that digital signature verification, a strong market for Wacom products, is gaining momentum in the U.S., China, and Asia Pacific regions.

Wacom’s net after-tax profit declined by 89 percent to about $453,000. The company reported that the heavy loss was due to its withdrawal during the quarter from a pension fund.

Wacom employs about 120 people in Vancouver. The company specializes in tablets, pens and touch components used by consumers and by arts and graphics professionals.