Tokyo - Strong sales of Panasonic televisions, camcorders, DVD players and plasma display panels - helped Matsushita Electric Industrial post a 19 percent gain in its A/V equipment area.
This total, primarily mainstream consumer electronics, hit $3.9 billion, up from $3.3 billion in the year-ago quarter.
A/V equipment makes up about half of Matsushita's AVC Networks segment, which during the fiscal first quarter hit $8.7 billion, up from $7.9 billion in the year-ago period. AVC Networks includes both video and audio equipment and information and communications equipment.
Matsushita said it benefited from new product introductions, aggressive marketing activities for the new products and increased demand propelled by Japan's co-hosting of the 2002 FIFI World Cup.
In information and communications products, which makes up the approximate second half of the AVC Networks segment, cellular phones and personal computer-related equipment recorded sales declines.
However, strong sales in auto AVC equipment, fixed-line communications equipment and broadcast- and business-use A/V equipment contributed to an overall 1 percent increase in first quarter sales in the information and communications products category. This total reached $4.72 billion, compared with $4.65 billion in the first three months last year.
The AVC Networks segment also recorded an overall operating profit during the period, coming in at $140 million, compared with an operating loss of $143.3 million in the first quarter of 2001.
Total overseas AVC Networks segment sales rose 11 percent in the first quarter, ended June 30, to $5.1 billion. Overseas sales of A/V products, alone, increased 16 percent in the first three months, reaching $2.6 billion. Overseas sales of information and communications products climbed 6 percent, to $2.5 billion.
Matsushita consolidated group sales for the first quarter increased 5 percent, to $14.8 billion, up from $14 billion in the same quarter last year.
Consolidated operating profit for the first quarter increased to $122 million, compared with an operating loss of $322.3 million in the same three months a year ago. The company attributed the turnaround to various business and employment restructuring initiatives implemented during the year ended March 31, 2002, as well as sales increases in such areas as audio/video, among others.
Consolidated net income for the three months rose to $36 million, up from a net loss in the same quarter of the previous year of $161.4 million.
Looking ahead - despite growing uncertainty about the global economic outlook, including the slowdown in the U.S. economy and the strengthening of the Japanese yen - Matsushita expects to maintain favorable business results through the second quarter of fiscal 2003. The company anticipates much of this will be centered on progress in its video and audio arena, among others.
Consolidated group sales for the six months, ending Sept. 30, are expected to rise 5 percent, to about $29.7 billion, compared with the same period last year. This replaces an April 2002 forecast of $28.9 billion.
Consolidated net income for the six months is expected to show a large increase, to about $141.6 million, up from the previous forecast of $16.7 million.