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Several top Japanese CE manufacturers provided a mixed portrait of the industry's performance for their fiscal year, which ended March 31.
No clear pattern of profitability or sales-volume increases or decreases emerged in the reports from Panasonic, Sharp or Toshiba, which all released their fiscal-year reports in the past couple of weeks. Samsung released its first-quarter report.
Panasonic reported that its profits rose 30 percent for its fiscal year while denying a rumor published in Japan that it was considering a merger with Sanyo Electric.
Panasonic earned a net profit of $2.7 billion on sales of $86.6 billion, which is down from $87 billion in its previous fiscal year.
The firm attributed the sales dip to the exclusion of Victor Company of Japan (JVC) revenue as JVC's corporate status changed from subsidiary to affiliate last year. (See story about JVC's fiscal performance and developments in its TV business on p. 4.) Panasonic enjoyed a strong growth in profits thanks to sales of flat-panel televisions, white goods and a tax break, the company said.
For its financial year, Panasonic's AVC networks division sales were up a total of 6 percent, with sales of video and audio equipment up 8 percent and automotive electronics and mobile phones up 5 percent.
The firm's home appliance division sales grew 6 percent as well, due to AC units and refrigerators, the company said.
Sharp reported a small drop in operating profit and a strong increase in sales for its fiscal year, due mostly to the volatile LCD market.
Operating profit for the year was down 1.5 percent to $1.8 billion for the year with sales up 9.3 percent to $32.9 billion.
In its consumer/information products segment, sales of audio/video and communications equipment rose 15.7 percent to $15.4 billion, with sales of LCD TVs and mobile phones driving the increase. In electronic components Sharp reported that during the year sales of LCD panels were up 8.7 percent to $6.59 billion, due to "solid growth in sales of large-size TV panels" last year, the company said. And in-home appliances sales were up 4.5 percent to $2.4 billion due to "brisk sales" of refrigerators and air conditioners.
Sharp emphasized its improved global production system in LCD TVs during the fiscal year, with new plants in Mexico and Poland, the installation of a third production line for large-sized LCD panels at the Kameyama No. 2 plant and the beginning of construction of a new LCD panel plant in Sakai City in Osaka prefecture.
In the report no mention was made of Sharp's investment in Pioneer Electronics, which was announced last year.
Toshiba reported a double-digit drop in operating income but an increase in net sales for its fiscal year.
In a year where the company exited the HD DVD format, net sales were $76.7 billion for the year, an increase of 8 percent, while operating income was down 20.3 percent to $2.38 billion for the year. Income before taxes was down $429 million, to $2.56 billion, due primarily to the costs incurred in its withdrawal of the HD DVD business, Toshiba said.
Its digital products segment sales were up 5 percent to $2.95 billion, while operating income was down 0.8 percent to $15 million. Toshiba reported higher sales in PCs worldwide, as well as higher sales in TV, while sales in mobile phones were flat. The digital-media business recorded what the company called, "a significantly lower performance," reflecting the HD DVD situation.
During its fiscal fourth quarter, net sales were $20.9 billion, down $614.0 million, with operating income of $1.14 billion, down $238.0 million, and net income of $12.5 million, down $249.0 million.
In digital products sales were down 3 percent for the quarter, to $7.22 billion, compared with the same time in the previous year, with operating income up $24 million, to $84 million. Toshiba reported increased TV and PC sales but was again impacted by its exit from the HD DVD format.
Toshiba indicated that all dollar figures it issued for this report are valued at 100 yen to the dollar for fiscal year 2007.
Samsung Electronics' first-quarter profit, ended March 31, was driven by mobile phone sales.
The company reported a 37 percent jump in profit to $2.2 billion, for the quarter on sales of $17.2 billion.
Samsung's LCD business generated 53 percent year-over-year growth primarily due to strong sales of larger, 46-inch and above, screen sizes, the company said. Handset sales were up 33 percent compared with the same period last year.
On the down side for the quarter were semiconductor and DRAM chips which dropped 2 percent.