• The Associated Press

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Canon’s fourth-quarter net profit soared more than fivefold from a year earlier, as global stimulus measures helped drive demand for new cameras.

The camera and office equipment maker said Wednesday its net profit for the October-December quarter totaled ¥61.56 billion, up from ¥11.62 billion last year.

It forecast sales and profit for 2010 to grow on an annual basis for the first time in three years as the global economy recovers.

Operating profit for the quarter more than doubled to ¥92.13 billion from ¥35.83 billion, while sales fell 4 percent to ¥954.06 billion.

The Tokyo-based company credited growing sales of its profitable digital single-lens reflex cameras, which offset lackluster demand for its printers and copy machines.

Governments around the world have pumped their economies with cash and consumer incentives to spur household spending. In Japan, for example, families received cash handouts last spring as well as incentives to buy eco-friendly appliances.

For 2009, Canon Inc. posted a 57 percent fall in net profit to ¥131.65 billion on 22 percent lower revenue of ¥3.21 trillion. Operating profit declined 56 percent to ¥217.06 billion.

Canon blamed the global downturn and a stronger yen for weighing on its full-year earnings. Then yen averaged 93.21 to the dollar during the year, up about 10 percent, the company said.

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