Panasonic sees fourth year of profit gains on auto electronics growth

Reuters News
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Posted: Apr 28, 2015 4:28 AM

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan's Panasonic Corp said it remains on track for a fourth straight year of operating profit growth, vindicating a restructuring that has seen the electronics firm pivot toward new goods like auto parts and away from former glories like TVs.

Reporting operating profit for the year ended March rose 25 percent, Panasonic said on Tuesday it expects operating profit to grow 15 percent to 430 billion yen (2 billion pounds) in the fiscal year that started in April, bolstered by high-tech auto parts.

The outlook was in line with a forecast it gave last month.

Operating profit for the 12 months ended March was 381.9 billion yen, beating Panasonic's March forecast of 350 billion yen. The company cited strong demand for its automotive products, which include batteries and electronic components, as well as the positive impact of a weaker yen.

The Osaka-based firm's upturn comes after years of losses on consumer electronics like TVs and smartphones, squeezed between cheaper Asia rivals and heavyweight tech firms like Apple Inc and Samsung Electronics Co.

Panasonic's restructuring progress is in sharp contrast to Japanese peers like Sharp Corp, which have struggled to reinvent themselves in the face of pricing pressure from Asian rivals. Sony Corp, which reports earnings on April 30, is only now showing signs of pulling off a long-awaited turnaround.

Piloting the restructuring, Chief Executive Kazuhiro Tsuga has said Panasonic's future strategy will mean seeking growth through spending around 200 billion yen on mergers and acquisitions in the current fiscal year alone.

He previously told Reuters that company was interested in M&A deals in the European white goods market, a sector where Panasonic has comparatively low brand recognition.

(Reporting by Ritsuko Ando; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell)