NEC may miss forecast
Japanese electronics maker NEC Electronics Corp may miss its full-year profit forecast by 39 percent as demand declines for semiconductors used in mobile phones and DVD recorders, the Nihon Keizai Shimbun said yesterday. Net income may total ?17 billion (US$164 million) for the year ending March 31, the newspaper reported, without saying where it obtained the information. That compares with a ?28 billion profit the company projected in October and a ?28.1 billion profit the previous year. Operating profit, or sales minus the costs of goods sold and administrative expenses, may be ?30 billion, 40 percent less than forecast, the paper said. Falling profits at NEC Electronics will force NEC Corp to lower its forecast because NEC relies on the unit for more than 30 percent of its operating profit, the report said.
S Korea to boost imports
South Korea has agreed to double rice imports to extend a WTO accord that allows Seoul a grace period of staying out of market-opening, news reports said yesterday. In a deal with key rice exporters, South Korea has agreed to expand the quota from the four percent of its total domestic consumption to 7.9 percent over the next decade until 2014, Yonhap news agency said. The deal, which was wrapped up last week by negotiations with the US, would be announced in the coming week to report it to the WTO, Yonhap said. Independent confirmation was not immediately available. South Korean farmers have protested any moves to expand rice imports, accusing the government of rushing a fresh WTO agreement without consultations with them. Domestic growers say the flooding of cheaper foreign products would drive them out of business.
Christmas virus spreads
An Internet virus disguised as an electronic greeting card is spreading around the world, duping e-mail users with a Merry Christmas message that automatically appears in their native language. The Zafi-D virus has infected 10 percent of e-mail on the net, according to anti-virus firm Sophos, though the vast majority of these messages were automatically filtered out by anti-virus software. The majority of infected computers are in South America and Europe, and as usual it was confined to computers running Microsoft's Windows operating system. The e-mail arrives with a subject line of "Merry Christmas" in one of 15 languages depending on the final suffix of the targeted e-mail address.
Toshiba to end PDP effort
Toshiba Corp will end production of plasma display panel (PDP) televisions after a similar decision by Sony Corp, the Yomiuri Shimbun reported. The company will instead make surface-conduction electron-emitter displays, and start selling them for flat TVs with screens of more than 40 inches from the summer in Japan, it said. Sales of plasma displays abroad will be phased out more slowly, it added. Toshiba officials weren't immediately available to comment on the report, which didn't say where it got the information. The company developed the display technology with Canon Inc, the newspaper said. Toshiba also plans a joint venture with Hitachi Ltd and other companies to mass produce liquid-crystal display flat-panel TVs, the report added.