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Matsushita Sales Flat In Americas During First Half

OSAKA, JAPAN -Sales to the Americas by Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd. remained flat, at about $5.5 billion, during the fiscal six months ended Sept. 30, compared to same period last year.

Operating profit to the Americas jumped about 8 percent for the same six months, hitting $100 million, compared to $93 million for the year-ago period. Overall, consumer product sales for the fiscal six months declined about 1 percent to $13.6 billion.

However, operating profit nose-dived for the six months, down to $51 million, compared to $168 million in the year-ago fiscal first half.

Second-quarter consolidated group sales, compared to the same period last year, increased 7 percent to $18.2 billion. Despite concern of a possible economic slowdown in North America, Matsushita’s results improved as increased profitability of corporations in Japan stimulated that country’s economic recovery, and overseas economies advanced steadily, as well.

Overcoming the negative effect of yen appreciation, overseas sales compared to the same quarter a year ago increased 1 percent to $8.8 billion. On a local currency basis, overseas sales climbed 8 percent. Consolidated net income jumped 71 percent to $389 million in the second quarter, compared to second-quarter 1999.

Consolidated group sales for the half ended Sept. 30 increased 4 percent to $34.6 billion, compared to the year-ago six months. Net income rose 51 percent to $476 million, compared to the same six months in 1999.

Second-quarter sales of video and audio equipment were virtually flat at $4.2 billion. Sales for the six months were off about 1 percent to $7.7 billion.

Taking into consideration possible slowdowns in the North American and Asian economies, as well as continuing increases in oil prices, Matsushita expects its overall business to grow steadily in the second half.

The company now forecasts annual consolidated sales to increase 5 percent from the previous year to reach $76 billion.