BUSINESS RECOVERING

Computer firms’ earnings improve

Major computer and chip manufacturers’ earnings showed signs of recovery in the business year that ended March 31, due to favorable sales of electronics devices and on-going restructuring efforts, according to earnings reports released Friday.

Compared to its business report for the previous year, which detailed a pretax loss of 221.4 billion yen and a 336.9 billion yen net loss, Hitachi Ltd. this time reported 79.2 billion yen in pretax profit.

The major electronic manufacturer also posted 174.3 billion yen in operating profit and 16.9 billion yen in net profit. The firm’s sales remained static at 8 trillion yen.

By sector, sales of information systems and electronic devices grew 1 percent to 3.15 trillion yen and, of that total, sales of electronics devices increased 9 percent to 960 billion yen.

Hitachi expects favorable sales of electronics devices to continue in the current business year through March 2001 due to strong demand for personal computers and cellular phones.

Meanwhile, Fujitsu Ltd. reported a consolidated pretax profit of 70.2 billion yen, down 8.6 percent from the previous year, and 5.26 trillion yen in sales, almost the same level as one year ago.

The Fujitsu group’s operating profit grew 13.4 percent to 149.9 billion yen while its net profit came to 42.7 billion yen. The firm had reported a net loss of 13.6 billion yen in the previous year.

While the Y2K issue hindered sales to corporate customers in the fields of software services and computer systems, sales related to telecommunications grew due to the spread of the Internet.

Sales of electronics devices for cellular phones and digital audio visual equipment increased rapidly during the business year, according to Fujitsu.

Toshiba Corp. reported a pretax loss of 44.9 billion yen, although sales increased 8 percent to 5.75 trillion yen. The firm reported a net loss of 28 billion yen.

Although Toshiba increased its operating profit to 101 billion yen, up 331 percent, due to restructuring efforts, it posted a special loss that included 106.4 billion yen in a lawsuit concerning its computers in the United States.

Chip makers up outlays

Five leading Japanese semiconductor makers will make large capital outlays on chip production facilities in fiscal 2000, including some 200 billion yen each by Hitachi Ltd. and NEC Corp., according to investment plans released by the five companies by Friday.

Hitachi plans to spend 204 billion yen on production facilities in fiscal 2000, up 38 percent over fiscal 1999, which ended March 31. The sum includes 70 billion yen for a plant jointly operated with a Taiwanese maker in Hitachinaka, Ibaraki Prefecture.

NEC’s 200 billion yen represents an increase of 50 billion yen over the previous year, while Fujitsu Ltd. will boost spending by 82 percent to 160 billion yen, Toshiba Corp. by 33 percent to 130 billion yen and Mitsubishi Electric Corp. by 75 percent to 100 billion yen.