Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. reported a 47-percent rise in profits for the third quarter, boosted by strong demand for plasma display television sets and washing machines. But it also said it would cut as many as 8,000 jobs in Japan to reduce costs and ward off cheaper competition and slashed its full-year earnings forecast.
Group net profit at the Osaka-based manufacturer of Panasonic brand products totaled 35.6 billion yen (approx. U.S. $341 million) for the quarter ended Dec. 31, up from 24.2 billion yen (approx. $233.2 million) in the same period a year earlier.
Sales rose 13 percent to 2.3 trillion yen (approx. $22 billion) for the quarter from 2.03 trillion yen (approx. $19.6 billion) a year earlier.
Matsushita cut its profit outlook for the fiscal year ending March 31 to 50 billion yen (approx. $479 million) from its initial forecast of 63 billion yen (approx. $607.3 million), citing restructuring costs.
Even the lower forecast marks a 19-percent improvement from the previous year. Matsushita kept its full-year sales forecast unchanged at 8.8 trillion yen (approx. $84 billion).
The company said it was sticking to restructuring plans despite its bright performance and was cutting 7,000 to 8,000 jobs in Japan, or about 2 percent of its global work force, this fiscal year. The job reductions will be carried out through early retirement and other voluntary methods, said Munetsugu Takeda, company spokesman.
For the 9 months through Dec. 31, Matsushita earned 91.7 billion yen (approx. $878 million), nearly double the 47.4 billion yen (approx. $456.9 million) recorded in the same period a year earlier. Sales for the 9 months rose 17 percent to 6.6 trillion yen (approx. $63 billion) from 5.7 trillion yen (approx. $54.9 billion).
During the latest quarter, sales were up for plasma TVs and digital cameras, offsetting sales declines in audio equipment and mobile phones. Home appliance sales were also good on strong demand for air-conditioners, washing machines, and refrigerators in Japan, but components and device sales suffered during the quarter, Matsushita said. (Forbes.com)
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