Panasonic loss balloons for record red ink

Panasonic Corp had racked up a 40.7 billion yen loss the same period the previous year.

Written by Agencies | Tokyo | Published:May 12, 2012 11:08 am

Panasonic’s January-March losses ballooned 10-fold to USD 5 billion,completing a year of record red ink at the Japanese electronics maker battered by natural disasters and an ailing TV business.

Panasonic Corp had racked up a 40.7 billion yen loss the same period the previous year.

The Osaka-based maker of Viera TVs and Lumix digital cameras reported today a record loss of 772.2 billion yen (USD 9.6 billion),a reversal from the 74 billion yen profit a year ago and among the biggest in Japan’s manufacturing history.

That comes a day after Panasonic’s archrival Sony Corp racked up a record annual loss of 457 billion yen (USD 5.7 billion) in its fourth straight year of red ink.

Sony,which makes the Walkman portable audio player and PlayStation game machine,had a 255 billion yen (USD 3.2 billion) loss January-March — its fifth straight quarterly net loss to round out a fiscal year that was the worst in its 66-year corporate history.

Both companies’ TV operations,centering around flat-panel sets,have been battered by a powerful Samsung Electronics Co of South Korea and other Asian players.

A strong yen has also eroded the value of overseas earnings for the Japanese.

Like Sony,which is hoping for a turnaround under a new president,Kazuo Hirai,Panasonic has tapped Kazuhiro Tsuga as president. The appointments still need shareholder approval.

Panasonic is forecasting a return to profit for the fiscal year ending March 2013,at 50 billion yen (USD 625 million) profit on 8.1 trillion yen (USD 101 billion) sales,up 3 per cent.

Panasonic does not have the entertainment or gaming businesses of Sony. But it is struggling as it attempts to strengthen solar panel and battery operations,including auto batteries,to find new areas of growth.

In a strategy released today,Panasonic said it will focus on business customers,not just individual consumers. It will increasingly target global buyers such as refrigerators in China and TVs in India,it said.

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