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Pioneer, Hitachi Post Losses; Sharp Lower Net

Tokyo — Hitachi, Pioneer and Sharp all reported their fiscal second-quarter results today, with the first two Japanese manufacturers reporting lower sales and a net losses.

Sharp issued a fiscal first-half report without separately breaking out its second-quarter results and showed a gain in sales but lower net income for the period ending Sept. 30.

All three companies cited ongoing worldwide financial woes for the quarter: higher energy and raw material costs, the credit crisis due to problems with subprime loans and the higher value of the Japanese yen vs. the U.S. dollar.

Pioneer reported a 17.2 percent drop in consolidated operating revenue down to $1.59 billion main due to lower sales of plasma displays, DVD drives and car audio products.

The operating loss for Pioneer was $66.1 million, compared with an operating income of $9.03 million during last year’s second quarter, due to lower operating revenue and lower gross margins. Pioneer had restructuring expenses of $150.2 million due to an early-retirement program.

The net loss was $434.9 million compared with a net loss last year of $23.0 million. Pioneer said the Japanese yen appreciated against the dollar 9.5 percent and remained unchanged against the euro which impacted results.

By category, car electronics sales were down 7.7 percent to $822.6 million even though car navigation sales were up. Overseas sales were down 11.2 percent to $549.2 million, and operating income decreased 82.2 percent to $10.3 million.

In home electronics, revenue dropped 30 percent to $601.8 million due to lower plasma display and DVD drive sales. Overseas sales were off 29.2 percent to $536.9 million, and its operating loss expanded by around a third to $66.9 million.

Pioneer is lowering its operating income estimate for fiscal 2009 and expects a wider net loss.

The company reiterated that it will produce plasma displays starting next summer from panels supplied by Panasonic using Pioneer’s proprietary technologies. And Pioneer will use its technologies to develop LCD TVs under its own brand from units made by its investor, Sharp Electronics.

Also announced today, Pioneer’s president/representative director Tamihiko Sudo has also resigned, effective Nov. 15. He will be replaced by Susumu Kotani, currently managing director. Kotani will “expedite restructuring of operations and seek to improve its business performance.” Sudo will remain as director and will support the new president, Pioneer said in a statement.

Sharp reported a 12 percent increase in sales to $15.7 billion during its fiscal first half, ended Sept. 30. During the half, net income was down 6.9 percent to $416.4 million.

In its consumer/information products segment, Sharp said it worked to further expand LCD TV sales with premium models using Full HD capabilities. Sales of A/V and communications equipment were $6.5 billion, down 13.6 percent vs. the same time last year.

While Blu-ray disc recorders, which are not sold in the U.S., had strong sales, mobile phones sales were down. LCD TV unit sales were up, but revenue was down due to lower prices compared with last year.

In its electronic components business, sales of LCDs were $3.5 billion, up 20.2 percent from the same time last year. Increased production capacity at its Kameyama No. 2 plant contributed to sales growth of large-size LCD panels for TVs.

Sharp made no mention of its Pioneer plans in its financial statement. It did say it would emphasize “value-added models” and its proprietary technologies in Blu-ray, LCD TVs and mobile phones during its second half.

Hitachi reported a 1 percent drop in overall revenue to $26.6 billion, but a net loss of $167 million vs. the previous year’s second quarter. Hitachi had posted a $5.36 million net profit in last year’s third quarter. However operating income rose 23 percent to $1.14 billion during this year’s second quarter.

In its digital media and consumer products segment, revenues for the quarter compared with last year was down 2 percent to $3.46 billion. Its operating loss was $123 million, down from the previous year’s loss of $150 million. The improvement was due to a smaller loss in the flat-panel TV business resulting from the benefits of structural reform initiatives.

All monetary conversions in this report were 104 yen to $1.