- - Monday, January 23, 2012

Hitachi to stop making televisions

Japanese high-tech giant Hitachi said Monday it will stop making televisions by the end of September, Agence France-Presse reports from Tokyo, as intense price competition hurts TV earnings at many electronics manufacturers worldwide.

Hitachi will “terminate television production by the end of September” in Japan, said Sayori Nishino, a company spokeswoman, having already outsourced overseas TV manufacturing to foreign firms in 2009.

But it will still sell televisions branded with its “Wooo” logo made by contractors.


For Japanese manufacturers in various sectors, the surging yen has weighed on sales in foreign markets by making Japan-made products more expensive, as well as reducing the value of repatriated earnings.

Ratings agency Moody’s last week downgraded both Sony and Panasonic, citing losses in the two firms’ TV divisions, among other factors.

Television manufacturers around the world have been badly hit by rampant competition and minuscule margins, making profits difficult to squeeze out with consumers increasingly unwilling to shell out sky-high prices for sets.

Rapper Vanilla Ice back as star of home-improvement show

An unlikely home-improvement show hosted by 1990s rapper Vanilla Ice is back for its second season with the remodeling of another South Florida home.

During the run of “The Vanilla Ice Project,” which airs Saturdays on the DIY Network, the artist, whose real name is Rob Van Winkle, and his crew will take a dilapidated Palm Beach County mansion along the Intercostal Waterway and bring it into the 21st century with technology that isn’t on the market yet.

Mr. Van Winkle’s passion for real estate and renovation took hold in the early 1990s, after his hit “Ice Ice Baby” made him an international star with millions in the bank. He first bought a home on Miami Beach’s exclusive Star Island. He subsequently bought homes in the Laurel Canyon area of Los Angeles, New York’s Greenwich Village and Snowbird, Utah, a skiing and snowboarding destination.

“I went on tour for three years and never saw any of those houses,” Mr. Van Winkle said.

Fearing they may have been a waste of money, he decided to sell them - and a new career was born.

“I literally made millions of dollars on them,” Mr. Van Winkle said. “I was like, you gotta be kidding me. It can’t be that easy. Let’s go buy some more.”

After Mr. Van Winkle’s early 1990s stardom faded, he became more heavily involved in real estate. While he acknowledges that the housing market is different than it was 15 years ago, he said he’s been able to make money over the years by educating himself, studying markets and taking advantage of short sales and foreclosures. The longtime Miami resident estimated that he’s bought and sold more than a hundred homes, most of which were in Florida.

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