Strong sales of DVD units and rigorous cost-cutting efforts helped Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. chalk up 20.9 billion yen in group net profit in the third quarter of fiscal 2002, putting it on track to return to profitability on the year, the company said Thursday.

“I believe we were able to realize a recovery,” said Tetsuya Kawakami, Matsushita’s director of finance. “We’ve pretty much achieved our initial target.”

The Osaka-based consumer electronics giant said it forecasts 25 billion yen in group net profit on revenue of 7.3 trillion yen for the full year to March 31.

After posting a fiscal 2001 net loss of 431 billion yen, the largest loss in its corporate history, Matsushita vowed to return to the black this year, designating 88 products as priority items.

The firm expects those items to generate 1 trillion yen in sales for the current fiscal year.

Matsushita, which markets its products under the National and Panasonic brands, said its group operating profit during the latest reporting quarter, which ended Dec. 31, came to 42.8 billion yen, compared with a loss of 69.7 billion yen the previous year.

Sales in the three-month term totaled 1.87 trillion yen, up 8 percent over the year before.

Matsushita attributed its profitability to the company’s massive streamlining efforts, which contributed 123 billion yen to the group’s operational revenue during the October-December period.

It also said brisk sales of digital audiovisual products in the quarter helped the turnaround, noting that sales of plasma display TVs nearly tripled over the year before and that sales of DVD recorders and players were up 35 percent.

Meanwhile, household appliances, including air conditioners, refrigerators and washers, also performed well, with their sales growing 7 percent over the previous year. Matsushita said its high-end models enjoyed strong demand amid overall sluggishness in the sector.

The firm said overseas operations during the quarter also marked solid growth, especially in Europe and China, where the sales increased 23 percent and 46 percent respectively over the year before.

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