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Panasonic Sees Strong U.S. Plasma TV Sales
Apr 5, 2005
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Panasonic Corp. of North America, the U.S. unit of Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd. of Japan, is forecast that sales of its flat- panel plasma televisions would hit 1.6 million sets in three years, capturing one-third of the total U.S. market.

Chief Executive Yoshi Yamada said he expected double-digit growth in the unit's sales to around U.S. $9.4 billion for the fiscal year ending in March 2006. The company reported sales of $8.4 billion for its fiscal year ended March 2004.

"This year, we are targeting double-digit (sales) growth," Mr. Yamada told Reuters in a phone interview, referring to the fiscal year ending in March 2006.

Combined U.S. sales of flat-panel large-screen plasma TVs and smaller-screen, liquid crystal display (LCD) TVs will surpass sales and shipments of bulkier analog-based TVs for the first time, he said.

Mr. Yamada said he expected plasma TV unit sales of 500,000 during the fiscal year that began April 1, 2005, or triple the number of units it shipped during the just ended fiscal year.

The top U.S. Panasonic executive said that for fiscal 2007 he expected 1.1 million units of plasma TV sales, increasing to 1.6 million for the fiscal year ending in March 2008. That represents one-third of the 4.8 million plasma TVs Matsushita will be producing worldwide by then.

In the flat-panel TV market, Panasonic plans to focus on plasma TV, which it expects will outnumber its LCD sales by a ratio of two-to-one. Any TV screen above 37 in will be a plasma TV, while anything at 37 in or below will be LCD.

The average plasma TV screen size Panasonic sells will increase to 50-inches from the current 42-in standard, Mr. Yamada forecast. (Reuters)

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