Sat, Sep 15, 2012 - Page 14 News List

Sharp eyes profitability amid structural reforms

TOKYO DREAMING:Sharp celebrates its centenary amid mass redundancies and plunging shares, but executives are planning a profit for the next fiscal year

Bloomberg

Sharp Corp, the Japanese TV maker firing 5,000 workers after forecasting a second straight loss, said it plans to post a profit in the next fiscal year with the help of job cuts and cost reductions.

“We will achieve structural reforms without fail,” Sharp president Takashi Okuda told employees yesterday, according to an e-mailed statement from Sharp, which did not provide a specific forecast.

The net income forecast for next year contrasts with the ¥9.6 billion (U$124 million) average loss forecast of nine analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

Japan’s biggest maker of liquid-crystal panels is cutting jobs and negotiating with a labor union to reduce wages, managers’ salaries and bonuses to trim ¥14 billion in costs, the company said earlier this week.

That would be in addition to a ¥100 billion reduction in fixed costs that Sharp announced last month.

The maker of Aquos TVs reiterated its target to post an operating profit in the second half of the year ending in March, the statement cited Okuda as telling employees on the occasion of the company’s 100th anniversary today.

Sharp last month forecast a ¥250 billion net loss for this year, eight times greater than originally predicted, because of its unprofitable TV and display units.

The company posted a record ¥376 billion net loss in the year ended in March, while it is seeking to raise cash and cut costs as it faces a total of ¥706 billion in bonds, commercial paper and borrowings maturing within one year.

Sharp’s share price was unchanged at ¥208 at the close of trading in Tokyo yesterday.

The shares have declined 69 percent in Tokyo trading this year, making them the biggest percentage loser among more than 1,600 companies in the MSCI World Index.

Sales of display panels for tablet computers are less than the company expected, a senior executive at the Japanese company said earlier yesterday.

Finding customers for the indium gallium zinc oxide (IGZO) panels is the biggest focus of Sharp, which is trying to negotiate a tie-up with Taiwan’s Hon Hai Precision Industry Co (鴻海精密).

“We need to get enough orders to keep the factory running,” the executive said in a briefing given on condition that the speaker not be identified. “That is our biggest mission.”

Sharp, a supplier to Apple Inc, has invested at least ¥350 billion in the factory, which was converted from making TV panels and started producing IGZO panels in March. The company hopes an alliance with Hon Hai may help it find customers for the displays, the executive said.

“If demand for this technology is lower than expected, it will be difficult for the company to achieve its operating profit target,” said Yuji Fujimori, a Tokyo-based analyst at Barclays PLC.

“The company may be forced to lower its earnings estimates when it submits revival plans to banks this month,” Fujimori added.

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