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Matsushita Reports On A Sluggish Fiscal 2000

OSAKA, Japan — Although global sales of DVD players continued to surge, Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd. reported an 8 percent drop in sales of consumer products for the fiscal year 2000 ended March 31, down from $31.02 billion to $28.42 billion, compared to fiscal 1999. Video and audio equipment sales fell 10 percent, mainly due to overall slow sales of both televisions and VCRs, said Matsushita.

Overall sales in North America for fiscal 2000 were relatively flat, dropping from $10.84 billion last year to $10.51 billion in the year ended this past March. Operating profit in the Americas, however, more than doubled to $144 million, up from $63.2 million in fiscal 1999.

Consolidated group sales for Matsushita dropped 4 percent to $68.9 billion in fiscal 2000, from $72.1 billion the prior year. The company said this decrease was due mainly to sluggish demand in Japan, intense global price competition and yen appreciation, which negatively affected overseas sales when translated into yen.

Overseas sales, on a local currency basis, climbed 3 percent. However, factoring in yen appreciation, overseas sales dropped 7 percent to $33.97 billion. Although only about half the size of its two sisters, component products outdistanced both consumer and industrial product sales in the fiscal year.

Consolidated operating profits fell 18 percent to $1.5 billion last year, down from $1.8 billion in fiscal 1999. Matsushita said increased profitability in components and efforts to improve overall efficiency could not offset the combined negative effect of yen appreciation and global price declines. Net income of $941 million jumped 636 percent over the prior year, due in part to a half-billion expense from revaluation of net deferred tax assets incurred in 1999.

Looking at fiscal 2001, Matsushita said it expects consolidated sales to maintain current levels of a bit less than $70 billion. It also expects a 19 percent jump in operating profit and a 2 percent hike in net. The parent, alone, can expect about a 1 percent rise in sales to $43 billion, the company said.