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Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. said Tuesday its group net profit for the fiscal first half grew 31.5 percent from a year earlier to 23.15 billion yen on the back of restructuring effects and strong sales of digital home products.

The consumer electronics maker also reported a 2.9 percent gain in pretax profit to 57.25 billion yen on consolidated sales of 3.639 trillion yen, up 0.5 percent.

The company left its interim dividend unchanged at 6.25 yen per share. However, it said it will implement a special dividend payment of 1.50 yen for fiscal 2003 to commemorate the 85th anniversary of its founding this year, bringing the full-year payment to 14.00 yen.

Matsushita Electric Industrial said the improved results derived from intensified efforts to reform its corporate structure and put strategic focus on select Panasonic-brand products, including digital audiovisual equipment like DVD recorders and flat-panel televisions.

The popularity of such products offset slumps in VCRs and cathode-ray tube TVs, helping generate a 2 percent sales gain to 1.727 trillion yen in the audio, video and communications equipment division, the company said.

In other segments, sales of the home appliances business dropped 2 percent to 586.2 billion yen.

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