The listed arm of Chinese appliance king Haier posted a 9-percent fall in third-quarter earnings, its first quarterly drop in a year.
Full-year earnings are set to slip for the third straight year as the appliance maker grapples with a price war made worse by stubborn overcapacity.
The fate of Haier and appliance makers such as Guangdong Kelon now hinges on how they respond to rising steel prices -- which rebounded after a second-quarter slump -- and cut-throat rivalry in a sector crowded with hundreds of players.
One strategy has been to seek markets abroad, an approach employed by a range of Chinese firms from PC maker Lenovo to TV and cell phone giant TCL.
While competitors are muscling in on Haier's core refrigerator and air-conditioner market, overseas sales via retailers Costco and Home Depot Inc. assuaged some of the pain.
"The domestic home appliance sector is very mature, so I don't expect much variance in performance. Its profits for the year would be flat at best," said Li Xiaoyong, an analyst at Guotai Junan Securities.
Qingdao Haier Refrigerator Co. Ltd. posted a net profit of 94.73 million yuan (approx. U.S. $11.45 million) in the July-September period, versus 103.79 million yuan a year ago.
That beat expectations for 84.57 million, the median forecast from three analysts polled by Reuters.
Revenues in the quarter rose 25 percent to 3.63 billion yuan.
"We endured high raw materials costs and a shortage of energy, which raised our accounts receivables, inventory and overall risk," the firm said in a statement posted on the Shanghai stock exchange Web site. (Reuters)
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