Industrial output slips
Industrial output slipped by a surprise 0.6 percent in December from a year earlier, data showed yesterday, dampening hopes that Asia’s third-largest economy could be on the upswing. The deterioration in the output of India’s factories, mines and utilities, undershot market expectations of a 0.8 percent rise in December, according to a Dow Jones Newswires poll. The weak official figures will deal another blow to the scandal-tainted government of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who has been keen to revive the economy with his Congress-led administration facing elections next year. Manufacturing output slipped 0.7 percent in December from the same month a year earlier, while mining production slid 4.0 percent.
Olympus cuts profit outlook
Olympus Corp, a Japanese camera and endoscope maker, cut its outlook for profit after booking an impairment loss at its imaging division and said it will announce new plans for its camera business in coming months. Net income will probably be ￥6 billion (US$64 million) in the 12 months ending March 31, compared with the previous forecast for ￥8 billion, according to a statement from the Tokyo-based company yesterday. Sales will be ￥740 billion, compared with a previous projection for ￥757 billion. The company aims to have a reorganization plan ready for its camera business by the time it announces earnings for the year ending March 31, senior executive director Yasuo Takeuchi said. Olympus expects to lose about ￥16 billion this fiscal year at its camera business, double the ￥8 billion target set in November, according to the statement. Olympus cut its full-year sales target for cameras to ￥110 billion from the ￥129 billion estimate made in November, according to the statement.
Colgate expects bolivar hit
US giant Colgate-Palmolive said on Monday it would take a significant loss in the current quarter from Venezuela’s 32 percent currency devaluation announced last week. The company said that in a preliminary assessment of the impact of the devaluation of the bolivar, it would take a one-time after-tax loss of US$120 million, or US$0.25 per share, in this year’s first quarter, “related to the re-measurement of the local balance sheet at the date of the devaluation.” There would also be an ongoing impact of US$0.05 to US$0.07 a share each quarter this year related to adjusting local Venezuela financial statements to the new currency regime, Colgate said. However, it added: “The devaluation will not have any impact on the company’s 2012 results of operations or financial position.”
Michelin drives up profits
Tire maker Michelin says its profits rose 7.5 percent last year despite a struggling car market in Europe, and expects to keep up volumes this year. Michelin SA said in a statement yesterday that it was helped by growth in emerging markets and high margins on specialty tires. Michelin reported 21.47 billion euros (US$28.75 billion) in sales, up 5.8 percent from 20.72 billion euros in 2011, but slightly below forecasts of 21.62 billion euros by analysts surveyed by FactSet. The company, based in Clermont-Ferrand in central France, said last year’s profits were 1.57 billion euros, up from 1.46 billion euros the year before. Michelin says it expects to “hold volumes steady this year, in a market environment that is uncertain in mature markets, but still expanding in the new ones.”
AmEx starts Twitter sales
American Express on Monday began letting users of its payment cards make purchases with messages fired off at Twitter as the popular social network dabbles with making money from e-commerce. American Express announced that members who synchronize their cards with Twitter can take advantage of offers “tweeted” by the financial services company. American Express will promote products in messages fired off at Twitter. Card holders buy items by tweeting indicated hashtags, with their accounts being charged accordingly. Depending on the offers, products will be shipped to buyers or picked up in shops.
New markets boost L’Oreal
French cosmetics giant L’Oreal said on Monday its net profit rose by 17.6 percent last year to 2.87 billion euros (US$3.8 billion) and that it expects to top the performance this year. Sales rose by 10.4 percent to 22.46 billion euros, or a 6.2 percent gain taking currency fluctuations into account. Chief executive Jean-Paul Agon said: “2012 also marked a milestone in the acceleration of the Group’s internationalization, as the ‘New Markets’ became the No. 1 geographic zone.” This includes the Asia-Pacific region, where sales rose by 9.6 percent on a like-for-like basis and 18.4 percent on a reported basis. Latin American sales rose by 8.7 percent on a reported basis, and by 17.6 percent in Africa and the Middle East.
ThyssenKrupp earnings fall
ThyssenKrupp AG, Germany’s biggest steelmaker, reported adjusted earnings for the first fiscal quarter that fell 38 percent as the economic slowdown eroded demand. Adjusted earnings before interest and taxes fell to 229 million euros (US$307 million) from 372 million a year earlier, the Essen, Germany-based company said yesterday in a statement. Sales for the quarter ended Dec. 31 fell 7.9 percent to 8.84 billion euros. “We cannot be satisfied with the Group’s current earning power,” chief executive officer Heinrich Hiesinger said in the statement. The company intends to save 500 million euros by reorganizing its European steel business and cutting more than 2,000 jobs.
Hostess auctions approved
Hostess Brands Inc won bankruptcy court approval to hold auctions for brands including Wonder Bread, Twinkies and Drake. US Bankruptcy Judge Robert Drain in White Plains, New York, on Monday approved Flowers Foods Inc, McKee Foods Corp, United States Bakery Inc, Apollo Global Management LLC and C. Dean Metropoulos & Co as so-called stalking-horse, or lead, bidders for most of Hostess’ cake and bread brands, setting the thresholds other suitors will have to exceed. A sale hearing, to approve the highest and best bids, is set for March 19.
Key rate held for 12th month
The central bank yesterday kept its key interest rate steady at 5.75 percent for the 12th straight month as it looks to boost growth in Southeast Asia’s biggest economy. Inflation hit a four-year high on a monthly basis last month at 1.03 percent, from 0.54 percent in December as food prices soared following seasonal flooding. Bank Indonesia spokesman Difi Johansyah said there were risk factors that could increase inflationary pressure, “such as weather that could disrupt food production and distribution.” The bank expects inflation to remain in check, however, between 3.5 and 5.5 percent until 2014.
ELECTRONICS Lite-On delays sale of unit Lite-On Technology Corp (光寶科技) yesterday said it would postpone the sale of its solid-state drives (SSD) business to Kioxia Holdings Corp, formerly known as Toshiba Memory Holdings Corp, due to disruptions amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Last year, the Taiwan-based electronics components supplier struck the deal with the Japanese firm, agreeing to sell the unit for US$165 million. Citing unfinished integration work due to the pandemic, Lite-On has deferred today’s closing date until further notice, adding that the delay would not have a negative effect on the unit’s operations. AUTO PARTS Hiroca approves dividend Automotive interior parts supplier Hiroca
NOT ALL GOOD: Analysts warned that other data for last month might be less rosy due to the virus and analysts expect the PMI to contract again next month Chinese factory activity saw surprise growth last month as businesses went back to work following a lengthy shutdown, but analysts said that the economy faces a challenging recovery as external demand has been devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic, while the World Bank said that growth could screech to a halt. China is slowly returning to life after months of tough restrictions aimed at containing the virus, which put millions of people into virtual house arrest and brought economic activity to a near standstill. The strict measures saw a closely watched gauge of manufacturing plunge to its lowest level on record in February,
ALL ABOUT STRATEGY: The company is optimistic, saying that its gross margin should increase year-on-year, but it is scaling back on its plans to expand capacity Quang Viet Enterprise Co (QVE, 廣越), which makes down jackets and garments for sportswear and outdoor brands including Adidas AG, yesterday said that revenue might drop 5 to 10 percent annually this year as some customers trimmed orders in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. That would mark its first revenue decline since 2016. Quang Viet posted record-high revenue of NT$16.26 billion (US$537.45 million) last year, up 22 percent from 2018. Down jackets made up 40 percent of it revenue last year. North Face Inc and Patagonia Inc are this year likely to reduce orders by 20 to 30 percent from a
Taipei 101, one of the nation’s leading shopping centers, is planning to reduce its business hours due to decreased demand amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Taipei 101 is to open daily at noon and close at 9pm from April 6, building management said in a statement on Monday. The shopping center has been opening at 11am and closing at 9:30pm from Sunday to Thursday, while closing at 10pm on Friday and Saturday. The restaurants in the food court — on the basement level — would adjust their business hours as necessary, but the supermarket would continue to open at 9am daily, management said. The shopping