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Matsushita CE Sales Rise 3%

Tokyo — Strong sales of A/V products, such as flat-panel televisions and DVD recorders, lifted video and audio equipment sales 3 percent in the fiscal third quarter at Matsushita Electric Industrial, coming in at $4.3 billion, up from $4.2 billion in the year-ago period.

The increase outweighed ongoing sluggish sales of CRT televisions, VCRs and audio equipment.

Led by brisk sales of cellular phones, benefiting from new product introductions, as well as automotive electronics, third quarter dollar volume for information and communications equipment jumped 16 percent at Matsushita, hitting $5.2 billion, compared with $4.5 billion in the same three months a year earlier.

A/V and information and communications equipment sales combined to push up AVC Networks segment sales at Matsushita in the three months, ended Dec. 31, by 10 percent, reaching $9.5 billion, compared with $8.7 billion in the same period in 2002.

The company’s AVC Networks segment recording a 24 percent increase in operating income for the third quarter, hitting $314 million, up from $255 million year on year.

Overseas sales in the AVC Networks segment rose 3 percent in the third quarter, climbing to $5.8 billion. A/V equipment products overseas sales moved up 1 percent in the period, to $3 billion, while third quarter overseas sales of information and communications equipment increased 6 percent, to $2.8 billion.

Boosted by a rising economy in the United States, Matsushita consolidated third quarter sales jumped 5 percent, hitting $19 billion, up from $18.3 billion in the third quarter of 2002.

Negative factors, such as a strong yen and intensified global competition were more than offset by increased sales and company efforts to reduce costs. These factors resulted in a 48 percent increase in consolidated operating profit for the third quarter, to $663 million, up from $453.7 million year-on-year.

Consolidated net income rose 8 percent in the period, reaching $227 million, compared with $211.2 million.

Matsushita also noted third quarter income of $370 million related to pension funds transfer and restructuring charges of $336 million.

Nine month sales in the company’s CE and cellphone AVC Networks segment increased 5 percent, to $25.6 billion, up from $24.7 billion, with cellphones rising 8 percent and CE products essentially flat.

AVC Networks segment operating profit jumped 73 percent for the nine months, hitting $858 million, up from $502.5 million in the year-ago period.

Overseas sales for AVC Networks in the nine months increased 2 percent, to $15.5 billion.

Consolidated Matsushita sales for the nine months came in at $53 billion, up 2 percent from the previous year. Operating profit for the nine months soared 54 percent, reaching $1.4 billion, compared with $926 million year-on-year. Net profit for the period increased 19 percent, hitting $443 million, compared with $377.4 million in the same nine months in 2002.

Matsushita anticipates consolidated sales of $70.4 billion for the 12 months, ending in March, up about 1 percent year-over-year.

Consolidated operating profit for the year should rise 50 percent year-on-year, to $1.8 billion, while net profit for the period should come in at $330.6 million, compared with a year-ago net loss of $184.2 million.