Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Shattered Screen Dreams at GT Advanced

Always worthwhile to study failures of any kind...

Link to article: Shattered Screen Dreams at GT Advanced
The rapid meltdown of GT Advanced Technologies GTAT remains shrouded in mystery. One thing is clear: it is a stark example of what can happen when expectations for a company get out of control and are based on potential gains from a single partner. 
GT’s Monday filing for bankruptcy protection seemed to surprise everyone. Even analysts who were bearish on the maker of sapphire material due to concerns about cash flow figured the company would be able to raise more capital. But things deteriorated quickly, as the company seemed to burn though about $248 million in cash in a single quarter. 
That may have led to the company’s filing, since its cash, at $85 million, was below a $125 million trigger point that would allow Apple AAPL to demand repayment of about $440 million in loans it had advanced. Apple had agreed to lend GT a total of $578 million to help get a large sapphire factory in Arizona up and running. The tech giant reportedly withheld the last $139 million payment it was due to make, although it isn’t clear why. 
What is obvious is that GT effectively bet the house on a new technology with a new business model and made itself dependent on a single customer—Apple. 
For their part, investors seemed to focus only on the potential bonanza a relationship with Apple represented—the stock more than doubled earlier this year—while ignoring the risk posed by a lopsided relationship. The company had what it described as significant “exclusivity provisions” limiting what sapphire it could sell to other companies, while Apple was under no obligation to buy a set amount from GT.

[H/T @jasonzweigwsj]