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Tue, Dec 21, 2004 - Page 12 News List

Sony to stay in PDPs

NO CHANGE The company said it would continue making plasma televisions, denying a newspaper report that said it planned to end production to focus on LCD flat-panel TVs

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Sony Corp, the world's second-largest consumer electronics maker, has no immediate plans to stop making and selling plasma televisions, company spokesman Koichi Izukura said, denying an earlier report.

Sony will end production of plasma display panel (PDP) televisions at four plants in Japan and abroad, and stop sales as early as next spring to focus on liquid-crystal display (LCD) flat-panel TVs, the Nihon Keizai newspaper reported yesterday, without saying where it got its information.

The Tokyo-based company procures plasma display panels from other manufacturers and assembles the TVs.

Continued Sales

"While we will focus more on LCD and projection televisions, we will keep assembling plasma products," Izukura said. "We will continue selling plasma televisions."

Narrowing its production focus may help Sony boost sales at its consumer electronics division, where operating profit slumped 83 percent to ?7.2 billion (US$68.9 million) in the fiscal second quarter, an analyst said. Tokyo-based Sony's TV lineup includes ones with plasma displays, LCDs, light-emitting diode backlighting systems, and conventional cathode-ray tube televisions.

Lower Momentum

"Sony's LCDs and PDPs don't have the same kind of momentum that its cathode-ray tube televisions did,'' said Yoku Ihara, head of equity research at Retela Crea Securities Co in Tokyo.

``Instead of making LCD, PDP and rear-projection televisions, I can understand why they would want to narrow their focus on more profitable televisions.''

Sony, which ranks second among Japanese plasma display television makers by units shipped last year, may be losing market share to Matsushita Electric Industrial Co as the maker of Panasonic-brand consumer electronics boosts output.

Plasma display televisions account for about 15 percent of Japan's flat-panel television market by units shipped, and is expected to grow 61 percent to about 410,000 units in fiscal 2004, according to industry researcher MM Research Institute.

Matsushita, which ranks third in Japan behind Sony and No. 1 Hitachi Ltd according to MM Research, said on Dec. 16 it is raising output for plasma display panels ahead of schedule because of rising demand.

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