OSAKA – NTN Corp., a Japanese maker of bearings for cars and industrial gear, expects sales of the devices used in wind-power generators to exceed its target because the Fukushima meltdown disaster has spurred demand for alternative energy sources.
NTN may reach its revenue target for the specialized bearings six months or a year earlier than previously estimated, Shigeyoshi Takagi, president of the Osaka-based company, said in a recent interview. The company had expected the segment to rise six-fold in the three years ending in March 2014, he said, declining to give specific figures.
Meltdowns caused by damage from the March 11 tsunami at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 plant threw the energy industry into disarray, prompting opposition to providers’ plans to restart idle reactors. Tepco and its next-biggest rival, Kansai Electric Power Co., which serves the Osaka area, asked users to cut electricity consumption by 15 percent over the peak summer demand period as they worked to restore capacity.
“Attention is focused on clean energy sources (amid) the accident,” Takagi, 60, said. “Local governments may accelerate moves to develop independent infrastructure for renewable energy.”
Revenue from NTN’s industry machinery division, which includes bearings for wind-power devices and aviation equipment, accounts for about one-fifth of sales and may rise 45 percent to ¥144.5 billion in three years, according to a midterm management plan announced Aug. 1. Most of the company’s revenue is generated by bearings sold to automakers, including Honda Motor Co.
Demand for bearings for wind-power equipment may help increase the proportion of NTN’s domestic sales to as much as 25 percent, up from 20 percent, Takagi said. Overseas demand, which fell sharply after the recession triggered by the collapse of Lehman Brothers Holding Inc., started recovering last year, he said.
NTN recently said it will invest ¥15 billion to build a bearing plant in Nanjing, China, to meet demand for bearings for wind-power generators. It also plans to boost its production capacity for large bearings in 2013 in France, where there are plans to build wind-power plants in the ocean.
Takagi said even France, where more than 75 percent of electric power is generated by nuclear plants, may start boosting the proportion of renewable energy soon.
“The consequences of the Fukushima disaster are being felt by people worldwide,” he said.
NTN shares, down 10 percent this year compared with a 14 percent decline in the benchmark Topix Index, fell 1.8 percent to ¥386 as of the 11 a.m. Friday morning close on the Tokyo Stock Exchange.
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