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Matsushita CE Biz Sales Rise 9%

Osaka, Japan — Strong sales of digital A/V products, mainly plasma TVs and digital cameras, boosted sales of video and audio equipment at Matsushita Electric Industrial 9 percent in the company’s fiscal third quarter, hitting $4.4 billion, up from $4 billion in the year-ago three months.

Sales of information and communications equipment climbed 8 percent in the third quarter, ended Dec. 31, as sales gains in PCs and peripherals, and automotive electronics pushed segment sales to $4.5 billion, from $4.1 billion in the same quarter in 2004, overcoming weak overseas sales in cellular phones.

The A/V equipment and information segments combine at Matsushita to form the company’s AVC networks business, by far the company’s largest. Sales for the third quarter in AVC reached $8.9 billion, up 9 percent from the $8.2 billion recorded year-on-year.

AVC Networks posted profit of $492 million in the third quarter, more than double the $217.2 million recorded in the year-ago period. For the nine months, segment profit climbed 52 percent, reaching $1.2 billion, up from a year-earlier $794.4 million.

Overseas sales for Matsushita jumped 10 percent in the third quarter, to $10.3 billion, compared with $9.4 billion in the third quarter the prior year. Nine-month overseas sales increased 2 percent to $28 billion, from $27.2 billion in the previous period.

In the nine months, sales of video and audio equipment rose 4 percent to $10.7 billion from a year-ago $10.2 billion. Sales of information and communications equipment edged upward 2 percent to $13 billion from a year-earlier $12.7 billion. The total nine-month AVC Networks business increased 3 percent, reaching $23.7 billion from $22.9 billion.

Consolidated sales at Matsushita climbed 4 percent in the third quarter, to $20.3 billion from a year-on-year $19.4 billion. The company cited sales gains in digital A/V products as a primary reason for the quarter’s overall increase.

Negative earning factors, such as intensified global price competition and increased raw materials costs, were more than offset by sales gains, cost reduction efforts and other positive factors, said Matsushita, with the company reporting a 47 percent jump in consolidated operating profit, to $1.1 billion from $745.9 million. Net income for the quarter climbed 39 percent, hitting $418 million from a year-over-year $300.6 million.

For the nine months, consolidated Matsushita sales reached $56.4 billion, a 1 percent rise over the $55.9 billion logged in the prior year.

Operating profit increased 23 percent for the nine months, to $2.5 billion, from $2.1 billion in 2004, while net income rose 24 percent, reaching $963 million, compared with a year-earlier $775.4 million.

The company said it had increased capital expenditures to $830.2 million in the third quarter from a year-ago $650 million.