Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. and Sony Corp. said Thursday that their net profits more than doubled in the first half, though there was a stark contrast in how the archrivals made their money.

Osaka-based Matsushita, the world’s largest consumer electronics maker, was helped by strong sales of flat-screen TVs and other digital products, while Sony was again saved by Spider-Man.

Matsushita’s net profit for the April-September period posted a 2.4-fold rise to 56.18 billion yen on revenue of 4.32 trillion yen, up 19 percent.

It continued to enjoy robust sales of plasma display panel TVs, which more than doubled during the six-month period. It also saw strong growth in sales of digital still cameras.

In addition, the firm logged an increase in its traditional household appliance business.

Rivals are struggling in this highly matured area, which includes refrigerators, air conditioners and laundry machines. But Matsushita said it has successfully lured consumers by introducing products boasting new features.

The company plans to bolster its household appliance business in Asia, especially China.

Its cell-phone handset business enjoyed a strong performance at home, where its third-generation handsets for NTT DoCoMo Inc. were popular, though it fared poorly overseas.

Meanwhile, Sony’s net profit for the first half posted a 2.2-fold jump to 76.47 billion yen on revenue of 3.31 trillion yen, down 2.5 percent.

The firm attributed this growth to its strong movie business, buoyed by the blockbuster “Spider-Man 2.” The segment was also helped by DVD sales and popular pay-TV programs.

The film business’ first-half results did not include data pertaining to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, a movie studio recently acquired by Sony and its partners.

The bottom-line increase was also boosted by improved profitability at Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications AB, a cell-phone handset joint venture.

Yet, the company suffered weak sales in its consumer electronics and game businesses due to a stronger yen and downward price pressures.

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