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Hitachi CE Sales Rise 11%

Tokyo — The digital media and consumer products business at Hitachi, mainly consumer electronics, increased 11 percent in the company’s fiscal third quarter, coming in at $3.1 billion, up from $2.8 billion in the year-ago period.

The company cited growing sales of plasma TVs and other digital media products, and higher sales at Hitachi Maxell, for the increase.

However, Hitachi’s digital media segment reported a wider operating loss for the third quarter, ended Dec. 31, growing to $49 million, compared with a year-on-year loss of $15.1 million. The operating loss was due to a decline at the company’s plasma display-making subsidiary, as well as a large gain in 2004 from sales of securities.

For the nine months, digital media business sales were flat, inching upward to $8.25 billion, from $8.21 billion. The business recorded an operating loss for the nine months, coming in at a negative $187 million, compared with operating income of $74.6 million year-on-year.

Sales in North America rose 7 percent in the third quarter, hitting $2.2 billion, up from $2 billion in the same period in 2004.

For the nine months Hitachi North American sales moved up 4 percent to $6 billion from a year-ago $5.8 billion.

Consolidated Hitachi revenue in the third quarter increased 6 percent to $19.1 billion, from $17.9 billion the previous year, thanks, in part, to higher sales of flat-panel television and other CE products.

Operating income for the three months rose 14 percent to $332 million, from $290.5 million on higher earnings in a number of businesses. However, net income plunged 79 percent in the third quarter to $47 million from a year-earlier $225.4 million, due mainly to a loss in the company’s hard disk-drive operations as well as the lack of certain securities’ gains enjoyed the previous year.

For the nine months, consolidated Hitachi revenue increased 3 percent to $56.5 billion, from $54.5 billion the prior year.

Operating income dropped to $991 million from $1.4 billion, while the company posted a net loss of $46 million for the nine months, compared with operating income of $573 million the previous year.