Harman's AMX Acquisition Proves the AV Industry is Still Invisible

5/21/2014 2:56:00 PM
By Chuck Ansbacher
In pro AV, names don't come much bigger than Harman and AMX. The audio manufacturer's announcement today that it will acquire AMX—one of the industry leaders in control and automation— for $365 million is a blockbuster story for the AV industry. It bounds with possibilities, and sets the stage for Harman to play in spheres far outside what it is traditionally known for.

Harman is an interesting company to track since it is one of the only public companies in pro AV. They have shareholders to answer to, and all their finances are publicly available.

And when you look at the AMX deal through this lens, you start to see how completely insignificant it is to Harman's greater business, and how, while surging in every respect, the AV industry continues to remain a mere footnote in the world of tech and beyond.

For example, Harman has a market cap of just over $7 billion with over 12,000 employees. Compare this to AMX's 600, with an apparent value of $365 million.

In Harman's press release, CEO Dinesh C. Paliwal lays out the rationale for the acquisition—namely that the company is hoping to replicate the success it has seen in the auto world in the world of enterprise. The bulk of Harman's business currently comes from cars. The desire to expand beyond that is a no-brainer, and the acquisition of AMX definitely makes it possible.

But look at the market reaction to this story. Harman's stock has had a spectacular year, nearly doubling in value. Today? It's barely keeping pace with the indexes. What does this tell us? It tells us that the analysts on Wall St. don't see that having a significant impact on Harman's overall business. And if you look at where Harman makes all their money—namely in places other than pro AV–they're right.

This isn't to downplay the implications this deal has on the pro AV industry. To use an overused phrase, it's a game changer. But that's only for our industry. You won't find this news written up in any business sections. Nobody is talking about it on CNBC. It's a monster story, and it demonstrates how much room the AV industry still has to grow.

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