Pulse Train

Getting Fiscal: Old Trends, New Trends

Tandyland edited by Bradford N. Dixon

As you might expect, Tandy does a booming business every Christmas, but in recent years its sales curve has flattened out in the December quarter (see the Figure). This year, Tandy has an explanation for the trend: the addition of computers and telephones to its product lines. These products, often aimed at the business or institutional buyer, tend to sell more steadily year-round, as they're usually not bought as gifts.

Overall, average monthly sales for Radio Shack stores at least a year old increased 6 percent during fiscal 1984, compared to increases of 12 percent in fiscal 1983, 10 percent in 1982, 11 percent in 1981 and 6 percent in 1980.

Tandy's slackening sales continued into fiscal 1985: Radio Shack's first quarter sales were down. The company's computer division is looking to the Color Computer and Tandy's new PC-compatible micros to buoy sales, but it will take more sustained growth to get Radio Shack back into its familiar profit profile.

Tandy doesn't expect strong earnings and sales growth until fiscal 1986, according to a story in the Nov. 9, 1984, Wall Street Journal. Tandy's president and chief executive officer John Roach said earnings per share could easily grow during fiscal 1985, but that wouldn't necessarily mean an increase in earnings. That's because Tandy has bought about 12.8 million of its own shares since fiscal 1984.

Tandy blamed price-cutting and competition for its earnings slump in two consecutive quarters; the com-

Figure. Tandy's monthly sales since 1980.

pany sold more computers, but the increase in volume didn't offset earnings lost through lower prices.

The Model 100 is the latest target of

Tandy price-slashing. Tandy's advertised Christmas sale prices of $399 (8K) and $599 (24K) are now the 100's regular prices. The arrival of Tandy's new briefcase computer, the Tandy 200, on the scene puts the Model 100's future in doubt.

Tandy's director of market planning, Ed Juge, told 80 Micro consumer acceptance of the 100 didn't live up to expectations. Juge said the Christmas price cut was a planned promotion that had been in the works since January 1984.

Tandy's first portable computer is still an appealing buy. The newer Model 200 has a larger screen and Multiplan as firmware, but the 24K Model 100 has the same amount of memory and costs $400 less.

Tandy's setting up a training ground in New York for users of its 1200 HD

IBM-compatible computer. Digital Controls Inc. of Norcross, GA, has the job of establishing the experimental learning center.

Dick Cain, Tandy's director of computer training, told ComputerWorld, "We have trained 200,000 consumers in the last year. We're not fooling ourselves that standup training is the only way to do it. Digital Controls is an enhancement of our programs."

Digital Controls uses a training system that interfaces a laser disk system with a video monitor hooked into the Tandy 1200. Initially, the course costs $50.

The Tandy 1200 program will use Digital Controls' already developed IBM PC courseware, supplemented with training in seven business programs, including Lotus 1-2-3, Multi-Mate, Multiplan, Wordstar, and dBase II. Now that Tandy sells Framework and Symphony through Radio Shack Computer Centers, Digital Controls will develop programs for those products as well. Training time for the packages varies from two to twelve hours.

MicroTrends

Backers of micro networking continue to battle it out with multiuser system advocates for the hearts and minds of the business computer buyer. At the Data Processing Management Association's annual meeting last November, Tandy's John Roach helped make the case for networking.

Roach, quoted in ComputerWorld, said that although multiuser systems have their advantages, microcomputer

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