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Matsushita CE Sales Increase 6%

Osaka, Japan — Lifted by a 6 percent increase in fiscal-year sales of video and audio equipment, due mainly to strong movement of digital A/V products such as plasma TVs and digital cameras, overall sales in the AVC Networks segment at Matsushita Electric Industrial rose 4 percent, to $31.5 billion in the 12 months, up from a year-ago $31.1 billion.

The AVC Networks segment includes both consumer electronics products and information and communications equipment.

The 6 percent jump in the video and audio business, mainly CE products — carrying the Panasonic brand in the United States — accounted for a 12-month A/V sales increase to $13.5 billion, up from $12.9 billion the prior year.

Sales in the information and communications segment, which includes PCs and automotive electronics, edged upward 2 percent for the year, hitting $18.4 billion, compared with a year-earlier $18.1 billion. The rise mainly was a result of sales gains for PCs and automotive.

Segment profit for AVC Networks in the 12 months, ended March 31, jumped 50 percent, reaching $1.6 billion, from $1.1 billion last year.

Sales in the Americas moved up 4 percent for the year, hitting $11.7 billion, compared with $11.1 billion. Profit in the Americas for the year dropped 19 percent, however, down to $144 million from a year-on-year $181.6 million, as retail pricing for CE products continued to erode and costs of raw materials continued to climb.

Overseas sales of video and audio equipment moved up 8 percent in the year to $9.6 billion, while overseas sales of information and communications equipment climbed 3 percent to $9.3 billion. The two segments totaled a 6 percent overseas increase for the AVC Networks segment, reaching $18.9 billion for the 12 months.

Consolidated Matsushita sales in the 12 months edged upward 2 percent, hitting $77.6 billion, rising from $76.1 billion. The higher number was boosted, in part, by sales gains of flat-panel TVs and digital cameras.

Net profit for the fiscal year more than doubled, reaching $1.3 billion, up from $510.5 million the previous year. In the fourth quarter, the company reported moving into the black, posting a $355 million profit, compared with a loss of $289.8 million in the fourth quarter a year ago.

However, Matsushita said it continues to face a “severe business environment,” due mainly to rising costs of raw materials and price declines, mainly in digital A/V products, caused by intensified global competition. The company’s profit increase, despite economic difficulties, was due to offsetting sales gains, comprehensive cost reduction efforts and other positive factors.