Tech

Tim Culpan is a technology columnist for Bloomberg Gadfly. He previously covered technology for Bloomberg News.

Don't expect TV and display makers to bring home gold from the Olympics.

If history is anything to go by, shares in companies that supply panels and sell branded televisions have been losers during years in which the Games of the Summer Olympiad have been held.

The fortunes of the major players in the TV market have been mixed ahead of the 2016 games, which open in Rio de Janeiro this week. Of nine companies tracked by Bloomberg Gadfly that have been in operation since at least the 2008 Beijing games, four were down for the year through July and five were up. There's no reason to think that will continue.

For all the talk of sports-mad consumers splurging on the latest and largest sets on which to watch the spectacle, those companies you would think should benefit have more often than not ended the year with an Olympic-sized hangover.

Just this week, Sony Executive Vice President Ichiro Takagi told reporters he sees a pickup in demand ahead of the Tokyo Olympics, which aren't until 2020. Sony said a similar thing ahead of Beijing in 2008, only to be disappointed and have its shares finish the 12 months down 69 percent.

The last time Sony's shares rose and also outpaced the Nikkei 225 in an Olympic year was when a Canadian won the 100-meter sprint and beach volleyball became an official sport at what some dubbed the Coca-Cola Games of 1996, in Atlanta. Its three worst annual performances since then were in Olympic years, including a 31 percent drop in 2012.

No Glory
The Games of the Summer Olympiad haven't proven victorious for shares of those companies that make display panels and TVs
Source: Bloomberg

Samsung, meanwhile, has only risen and outpaced the Kospi Index once since Moscow played host in 1980. Its sole victory lap since then was taken in London four years ago.

The last time Sharp, the market's other long-standing player, posted a gain was Seoul in 1988. It still underperformed the broader Japanese benchmark, suggesting the Olympics weren't much of a help.

Even firms that supply the raw display panels have done better in non-Olympic years. Taiwan's AU Optronics, for example, climbed in 2004 when it was Athens's turn, yet both it and Chi Mei Optoelectronics (since acquired by Innolux) did far better the year before and almost as well the following period. South Korea's LG Electronics rose, but less than the Kospi, and posted a much healthier increase in 2005.

As with almost all host cities and most athletes, so with TV and display makers: The Olympic Games inspire many dreams, but leave losers in their wake.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.

  1. LG's display venture with Philips was later spun off and listed separately.

To contact the author of this story:
Tim Culpan in Taipei at tculpan1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Katrina Nicholas at knicholas2@bloomberg.net