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The five major electronics companies in Japan enjoyed increases in both group sales and consolidated operating profits in fiscal 2000, according to their earnings reports released Friday.

The increases were down to strong global demand for semiconductors and liquid crystal display devices, according to the reports.

Sony Corp. and Mitsubishi Electric Corp. both reported an increase of 9.4 percent in their group sales from the previous year. Meanwhile, both Hitachi Ltd. and Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. reported an increase of 5.2 percent and Toshiba Corp. an increase of 3.5 percent.

As a result of these sales increases and cost reduction efforts, all five companies reported increased consolidated operating profits for fiscal 2000.

Mitsubishi and Toshiba more than doubled their consolidated operating profits from the previous year. Mitsubishi’s consolidated operating profit stood at 195.39 billion yen and Toshiba’s at 232.13 billion yen.

Hitachi’s consolidated operating profits surged 96.3 percent from a year earlier to 342.31 billion yen. Matsushita’s consolidated operating profits rose 18 percent to 188.4 billion yen while Sony’s came to 225.35 billion yen, up 1 percent from a year earlier.

All of the firms, apart from Matsushita, also increased their consolidated pretax profits. Toshiba, which recorded 44.84 billion yen in consolidated pretax losses for fiscal 1999, recovered profitability in fiscal 2000.

Matsushita, however, saw its consolidated pretax profits fall by about 50 percent from the previous year. Company officials said this was due to one-off charges on increased compensation arising from a change in its employment system, fund retirement allowances for group companies and restructuring costs.

Hitachi, Toshiba and Mitsubishi also recorded soaring consolidated net profits while Matsushita and Sony released disappointing annual reports.

Sony officials mainly attributed a sharp decrease in its consolidated net profits to a one-time charge of 101.65 billion yen that arose from changes to a movie accounting method in the United States.

For the current fiscal year through March 2002, Matsushita predicts an increase in consolidated pretax profits to 133 billion yen, while Sony sees an increase to 280 billion yen.

Hitachi meanwhile forecasts consolidated pretax profits of 270 billion yen, down 17 percent from fiscal 2000. Toshiba forecasts consolidated pretax profits of 110 billion yen, down 42 percent, with Mitsubishi predicting consolidated pretax profits of 120 billion yen, down 43 percent.

All except Matsushita forecast that their group sales in the current business year will increase from fiscal 2000 by between 4 percent and 9 percent. Matsushita predicts a 2 percent decrease in its group sales for fiscal 2001.

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