Strong sales of new Viera flat-panel televisions, along with brisk business in DVD recorders and other digital A/V equipment, which offset lower sales of audio products, were reasons for a 9 percent fiscal first-quarter increase in video and audio equipment sales at Matsushita Electric Industrial.
Sales of video and audio equipment, sold primarily in the United States under the Panasonic-brand, hit $3.2 billion, up from $2.8 billion in the year-ago period.
Sales of information and communications equipment at Matsushita during the first quarter, ended June 30, did not fair as well, declining 7 percent to $4.5 billion, down from $4.7 billion in the same three months last year. In this business — although increased sales were reported for PCs and automotive electronics — cellular phones, facsimile machines and other products suffered declines.
Matsushita, which combines the video and audio equipment and information and communications equipment segments into its largest business division — AVC networks — registered a 1 percent decrease in sales during the first three months for AVC networks, down to $7.5 billion, from a year-earlier $7.7 billion.
However, AVC networks division profit jumped 7 percent in the first quarter, reaching $159 million, compared with $144.2 million in the same three months the previous year.
Overseas sales in Matsushita's AVC networks' video and audio equipment business increased 8 percent in the first quarter, moving up to $2.1 billion. At the same time, the overseas information and communications equipment segment showed a 4 percent decline in sales, down to $2.4 billion. Overall overseas sales for the AVC networks division edged upward 1 percent to $4.5 billion.
Healthy sales of digital audio and video products did much to help Matsushita record a 19 percent first quarter gain in consolidated sales, rising to $19.5 billion from a year-ago $15.8 billion.
As for first quarter consolidated earnings, negative factors, such as the strong yen, increased raw materials costs and intensified price competition, were more than offset by sales gains from new products, cost reductions and other positive factors.
Consolidated operating profit more than doubled in the initial three months, reaching $402 million, up from a year-on-year $179.1 million. Net income jumped to $304 million, up from $24.2 million in the same three months a year earlier.