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Meade Conference Call

Started by rmollise, 06/19/2008 06:43AM
Posted 06/19/2008 06:43AM | Edited 06/19/2008 06:45AM Opening Post
For those of you who haven't heard the latest Meade investor teleconference (it is posted on their website under "Investor Relations"), here's the gist:

--Hope to break even next fiscal year.

--Guarded optimism.

--Worldwide workforce has been halved to 250.

--Need to get out of their "large building" (goodbye Irvine factory).

--All high end scope production is now in Mexico; ever'thing else is being made in China.

--New telescope product coming in the next few months. Sounds newbie oriented (will broaden market for scopes).

--New features to be added to MySky by Xmas. Lower price next year (maybe).

--No mention of LX400 (nee' RCX400).

8)

Uncle Rod

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Posted 06/19/2008 10:45AM #1
I worry that Meade will no longer meet the needs of it past customers as far a service is concerned. Scopes such as the high end RCX models may fall to the side without any future support. Their camera, which I own, have already suffered this fate and will not be repaired.
This makes it difficult for serious astronomers to consider their products in the future I fear.

[SIZE="Large"][/SIZE][COLOR="Blue"][/COLOR] Floyd Blue grin
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Posted 06/22/2008 03:44PM | Edited 06/23/2008 10:04AM #2
Thanks for your work and your excellent summary. Here are some other items for consideration regarding concern over Meade's future and some of the concerns on this forum (this information may be of interest to other astronomers).

1. If concerned about a company's viability, one may often find helpful information at a brokerage webssite, at an investment website (such as Morningstar.com or Yahoo Finance), or at the company's own website. This assessement can HELP make any decision about product purchase, company viability, and future support. For example, one can read the teleconference on a brokerage website by keying in Meade INstruments and then News or Recent News.

2. If you already have a Meade product, fortunately, over the years Meade's customer quantity and products have meant Meade products enjoy many aftermarket supporters, such as this website, arksky.org, or Weasener's World (available through direct links at optcorp.com). They can HELP guide one about the likely tech support when the warranty (or "factory" support) expires, can greatly help with technical advice, can give assessments about what to avoid (including repairability, quality considerations, or support for various products), can help repair your scope, and can help maneuver through the often-challenging electronics functioning or repair issues. At any rate, these people seem to enjoy helping others in the hobby. Nevertheless, as Floyd aptly points out, when the parts are gone you can only expect so much.

3. To help prevent unrepairable damage to your scope's delicate electronics, I would STRONGLY SUGGEST using a plug-in circuit analyzer anytime you use AC power, especially when using an unfamiliar wall socket (as when traveling). Such devices are cheap and quick, and can be found at nearly any Recreational Vehicle dealer -- they have colored lights that tell you if you have a ground fault, reversed polarity, etc. These devices are like "virus checkers" for your electric circuits. Laptop computers are a bit more robust, but are stressed, so it's a good idea to use one whenever you are traveling (I would also recommend a one-time check for each circuit in your home, too). Faulty electricity can (unrepairably) destroy a scope's computer in milliseconds!
We have found bad circuits about a dozen times when traveling, and found two of them in our house (we had them re-wired before they did any more damage). A DC power source may be safer (although AC or solar is needed to charge batteries). I don't know if surge protectors do much good but I still use one.

4. If the electronics, warranty, or repairability have given up the ghost, and one can't get the "go-To" capability that has helped to make Meade famous, consider trying to find an aftermarket digital setting circle (such as from JMI equipment, marketed through jimsmobile.com or through nearly any astronomy outfitter). I have not seen anything for LX200's, but you never know when someone might offer such a product (especially if demand is high) and they may also be a good option for other Meade instruments or mounts.

5. I sent in a 10+-year old LX200 for off-warranty repair a couple of years ago, and it was not cheap (and this service may no longer be available from Meade), so it greatly helps to find out how to take the best possible care of such a sophisticated scope. Simple things -- reading the owner's manual, reading their website, talking with other owners, asking questions on the forum sites or aftermarket tech support people, joining a local astronomy club, checking any electrical outlet before you use it, etc. From talking to people who know something about Meades, they have been generally reliable if all goes well, but can be fairly easy to mess up irreversibly, and it's not a good idea to take chances. Experience Counts!

BTW I have no financial connections with anyone I've listed above, but would like to help someone else avoid expensive problems that could put their scopes out of commission for a while. Meade has helped our hobby, and it's sad to hear they are having problems (many of them probably from things they have little power over). Electronics manufacturing seems to be something that is now pretty much out of our control, too, and this situation may be more common (and more worthy of caution when using certain products) in the future as we outsource our capabilities to indifferent sources.
Hope this helps.
Posted 06/24/2008 02:40PM | Edited 06/24/2008 02:42PM #3
Meade stock closed today at .65 and had been falling all day. It is my understanding that one of Meade's largest stock holder is shopping their stock holdings in hopes that it can get out from under a $7,000,000.00 loss.

Bob

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