Thu, May 24, 2007 - Page 12 News List

Sampo Corp strives to cut losses this year

By Jason Tan  /  STAFF REPORTER

Sampo Corp spokesman Michael Chen, right, and Polon Electric Corp general manager Huang Pao-chang yesterday pose at a press conference to celebrate the launch of Sampo's new GK8800 model, a GSM phone with two SIM card slots.

PHOTO: WANG PEI-HUA, TAIPEI TIMES

Sampo Corp (聲寶), one of the nation's leading home appliance makers, is working toward cutting losses this year, a company executive said yesterday.

"We will continue to dispose of unprofitable affiliates or assets in an aggressive manner in order to create more values for our shareholders," Sampo spokesman Michael Chen (陳柏蒼) said yesterday.

Sampo's plans include disposing of a 3,150-ping (10,410m2) piece of land located in Banchiao, Taipei County.

The appliance maker is set to hold an open bidding in the third quarter for the land, which was evaluated as being worth NT$1 million (US$30,000) per ping last year, Chen said, adding that the sales would be booked in the current fiscal year.

The sale of the idle factory land will bring in an estimated NT$1.5 billion to NT$2 billion for Sampo, the Chinese-language Commercial Times reported on May 11.

Sampo posted a net loss of NT$4.1 billion last year and lost NT$4.92 per share.

In 2005, the company lost a net of NT$5.46 billion, or NT$6.55 per share.

For the first four months of this year, Sampo posted sales of NT$3.99 billion, a 13 percent decline from the same period last year.

Affiliates Sampo Technology Inc (新寶科技) and Rechi Precision Co (瑞智精密) both lost money last month.

Chen said the number of employees at Sampo Technology -- a flat-panel TV and monitor maker in which Sampo holds 69 percent stake -- has been reduced to fewer than 20 from 250 last year.

To return to profitability, Sampo intends to increase sales of products with higher profit margins, including variable-frequency refrigerators and air conditioners, as well as plasma and liquid-crystal-display televisions with larger screens, Chen said.

"Sales of these high-margin products will take up 10 percent of all sales, up from only 1 percent last year," he added.

The home appliance maker is also turning its attention to the consumer electronics sector by introducing new cellphone handsets.

Sampo launched the GK8800 model yesterday, a GSM phone with two SIM card slots that is targeted at business travelers.

"There are around 5 million users here who have two SIM cards. They no longer need to carry two phones with them with our new handset," said Huang Pao-chang (黃寶璋), general manager of Polon Electric Corp (寶瀧), the distributor of Sampo phones.

Sampo, a small player in Taiwan' s handset market, aims to sell 100,000 handsets by year' s end, up from last year' s 70,000, Chen said.

The company's shares closed up 1.15 percent to NT$6.12 on the Taiwan Stock Exchange yesterday.

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