Nikon Corporation's

present financial position

As second most important player in the world of photography Nikon Corporation is confronted with serious problems. Earlier this century Nikon went into the red. With the introduction of an interesting series of digital cameras and lenses Nikon was saved by the bell. Luckily Nikon became a ‘paying concern’. But not for long as competitors were not sitting still and consumers preferences were unpredictable. Mobile phones and (later) tablets were fitted with cameras and lenses equaling many compact digital cameras in performance. In 2004 a Consumer Relation Management was unrolled to follow market trends. Unfortunately the latter effort was not yielding as expected.
The overall imaging business went down by 30%, while the sales of Coolpix cameras even went down by over 50 %. Not only by changing markets but also by environmental disasters, causing delays in supply and production.

Note: Nikon's financial year is running from April 1 - March 31.

In May 2015 a 3-year management plan was introduced, but Nikon stated in its November 2016 financial results data that Nikon ‘misread market trend’ and that it ‘acknowledge the issues of current targets and will discontinue the existing medium-term management plan’. In its new restructuring plan Nikon stated to strive for break-even on Lithography and Imaging Products business and to develop the Microscope Solution, Industrial Metrology and Medical Business. To achieve this, serious changes in Nikon’s management and production units have been taken. Some 1143 persons solicited for voluntary retirement. The last quarter of the fiscal year ending March 31, 2017 has been a tough one, due to one-time restructuring costs of nearly 53 billion Yen. By the end of March 2017 financial data published by Nikon Corporation were showing that the precision equipment business was profitable, where the imaging business went down by 26.4 % and the operating income decreased by a hefty 39.4 %. In its 2018 financial report Nikon stated that 'despite market shrinkage fixed cost reduction and focus on high-value-added products profit increased by 13.1 %'. Nikon's forecast for 2019 saw a 'decrease due to continuous market shrinkage and impact of foreign exchange loss'. Cost reduction was achieved by closing overseas (China) production units and serious management reorganization. In its February 2019 financial report Nikon stated that "with the announcement of ML cameras more customers than expected refrained from purchasing existing products. Units sold, revenue and H1 profit missed plan".

Would it be of help to announce new products when they are ready for shipment? Many newly announced/introduced products are not available for many months! Firmware upgrades before an item is available is no recommendation.

In its presentation of the financial data of the year ending by March 31, 2019 Nikon stated that "camera market continues to shrink" and "sales volume reduction is expected in each category". Unfortunately Nikon had to repeat this sad statement again in August 2019 and February 2020. The reports presented in the latter month revenue (YoY) went down by 15.5 % and operating profit by 59 %. The compact camera market and the D-SLR camera market are forecast to shrink. The ML cameras were received well by the public but for how long?

Nikon has 'misread the market' (stated in an earlier financial report), documented by the Nikon 1-Series, Keymission, DL-Series and Nikon NF-300i frame (just to mention a few recent 'poor shots'). Since the 1990's the production of (megalomaniac) products like various printers, scanners, projectors, beamers, the Zoom-Nikkor 1200-1700mm and the recent Nikkor-Z 58mm/0.95, absorbing research millions of Yen, manpower and production facilities, may improve the company's image, but will not serve balance sheet figures.

This century Nikon Corporation has been way off and may lose its footing.

In its 2019 management plan Nikon promises to "improve profitability and enhance management DNA" by "trustworthiness and creativity" with a slogan: "Unlock the future with the power of light!". Unfortunately nowhere open and transparent consumer relations or communications are mentioned.

Nikon should open its HQ and communicate with customers worldwide. A global player should act as a global player and should not feel offended by critics.

But in a 'Top Message' as of September 2019 Mr. Toshikazu Umatate, CEO of Nikon Corporation, promised to 'put customers first'.

It is clear that also Nikon Corporation has been hit heavily by the COVID-19 pandemic. In its presentations of the financial results of the year ending March 31, 2020 Nikon has lost a revenue of 23.7 %. Nikon thinks that the 'market shrinkage is accelerating' and that Nikon will 'continue focusing on mid and high-end models'. The revenue in the Imaging Business Sector was in the fiscal year 2017 some 383 billions of Yen. In 2018 it decreased to 360 billions, in 2019 to 296 billions and in 2020 it decreased even to as low as 225 billions of Yen. The operating profit in these fiscal years are 17, 30, 22 and -20 billions of Yen respectively. Most of the losses were caused by problems in the supply chain, as many suppliers were also hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately Nikon had to dismiss about 700 people in overseas sites (Thailand and Laos).

In its presentation material by May 2021 Nikon published an operating loss for 2021 of a hefty 35.7 billions of Yen. But Nikon managers remain optimistic as they expect in a forecast a 5% increase.

Below you can see the decrease of sold cameras and lenses over the last 10 years.

Unit sales of Nikon cameras and lenses (10,000 units)



2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022

D-CIL* - world







1,141 1,004 792 552









262 206 162 84










IL** - world







1,906 1,696 1,337 911









401 317 260 135










C-DSC*** - world







1,196 822 619 343









251 160 84 26



* = Digital Cameras with Interchangeable Lenses - ** Interchangeable Lenses - *** Compact Digital Still Cameras - # forecast

(Source: Nikon 2019/May, 2020/May & August and 2021/May & August presentations)

From the above data we can see that the number of digital cameras with interchangeable lenses sold worldwide went down since 2012 from 4,740,000 units to 840,000 units. The number of lenses sold went down since 2012 from 7,130,000 to 1,350,000 and for the digital compact cameras (Coolpix etc.) the decrease is really dramatic since their sales went down from 17,370,000 in 2012 to a mere 260,000 in 2020. It is very doubtful if these figures will ever be on the upgrade.

But: Nevertheless Nikon remains positiv by stating: 'Brisk sales of new products in mirrorless cameras and lenses. Shift to mid to high-end models for pro/hobbyist has been progressing smoothly, and unit sales price has risen. Mirrorless bodies and lenses reached record high forquarterly sales volumes and revenues on contribution from new products Z 6II and Z 7II. Profitable in real terms, excluding one-time cost such as restructuring relevant expenses, thanks to advanced business cost reduction in addition to increased revenue'. In its May 2021 presentation material Nikon promised to continue to advance shift toward highend and mid-range models and shift to mirrorless equipment for pro/hobbyists. It will enhance customer satisfaction and the quality of sales by launching flagship bodies and expanding lenses lineup.

AND: In its presentation material of the first quarter of the fiscal year 2021 Nikon Corporation seems to be out of the red!! Sales in all imaging product segments went up, leading to positiv financial results. Nevertheless the forecast remains unchanged.

Long time competitors (Canon, Sony and others) are suffering losses as well due to the shrinking market of digital cameras and lenses. Some competitors (Casio, Minolta, Contax and others) have even left the camera market.