Planar Systems has no qualms about making a public display. The company makes custom, embedded, and video wall displays used in such applications as vehicle dashboards, instrumentation, security monitoring, and retail systems. Planar also sells desktop monitors and home theater systems. Its products -- marketed under the Planar, Clarity, and Runco brands -- include matrix and mosaic LCD systems, flat-panel displays, rear-project cube displays, touch monitors, and theater front-projection systems. The company serves consumers, as well as clients in the retail, industrial, transportation, and education industries, among others. It generates most of its sales in the US. Planar was bought by Leyard Optoelectronic Co. in late 2015.
Change in Company Type
Leyard, based in China, paid $157 million for Planar. The acquisition adds Planar's high-end home entertainment systems to Leyard's professional display systems. The purchase also extend Leyard's reach into North America through Planar's customer base and its sales and marketing operations. Planar is a subsidiary of Leyard.
The company has sales offices in China, Finland, France, Italy, and the US (in Oregon.) It has manufacturing plants France and the US (in Oregon); it closed a plant in Finland in 2013.
Planar Systems generates three-fourths of its sales in the US.
Sales and Marketing
Planar sells directly to consumers and original equipment manufacturers, but is focused on reseller channels.
Planar reported sales for fiscal 2013 (ended September) of $166 million, down about 3% from 2012. The net loss of $6.5 million that year was up from a loss of $16 million the previous year. Growth in the company's strong digital signage segment (driven by LCD video wall systems and LCD commercial flat panels) was not enough to offset an 18% decline in sales from its commercial and industrial segment as demand decreased for high-end home theater products and rear-project cubes. The dip in revenue was also related to the sale of its electroluminescent display business in 2012.
In addition, the company has experienced a negative cash flow for the past three years. In 2013 net cash used in operating activities related to the overall net loss, increases in accounts receivable and inventories, and a decrease in other liabilities.
The company is increasingly focused on its fast-growing digital signage business as the commercial and industrial markets it serves are mature and don't offer the same opportunities. (In 2013 the digital signage business accounted for about 40% of sales; commercial and industrial made up the other 60%.)
To that end, it has been divesting operations (such as the late 2012 sale of its electroluminescent business to Beneq for about $6.5 million) to sharpen its focus on digital signage and interactive display. The company also continues to target new specialty niche applications for digital signage such as large venue viewing, ruggedized outdoor displays, and touch applications.