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Fri, Oct 26, 2007 - Page 10 News List

World Business Quick Take


■ Electronics

Sharp profits take tumble

Profit at Sharp Corp fell 6.9 percent in the six months to Sept. 30 because of the costs of opening new TV plants and soaring prices of raw materials for solar cells, Japan's leading manufacturer of liquid crystal display TVs said yesterday. The Osaka-based company said group net profit fell to ¥43.3 billion (US$263 million) for the period from April to last month, down from ¥46.5 billion a year ago. First half sales totaled ¥1.641 trillion (US$14.4 billion), up 12 percent from the ¥1.466 trillion for the same period a year earlier, the company said in a statement.

■ automobiles

Steering wheel unveiled

Japanese electronics giant Hitachi has developed a steering wheel that enables the driver to use his or her fingers as switches for the engine, car stereo and navigation system. The steering wheel is equipped with a tiny device that reads the driver's finger veins. "If I place my index finger on this reader, it recognizes it's me. If I put the finger again, it starts the engine," Masahide Hayashi of Hitachi's sensor design department explained at the Tokyo Motor Show in Chiba, near the capital. "When the middle finger is on the device, it sends a command to play music I registered in accordance to my taste. The ring finger can start the navigation system," he said.

■ Telecoms

Ericsson earnings drop

Ericsson, the world's leading mobile networks maker, presented sharply lower third quarter earnings yesterday in line with last week's profit warning that shocked the market. Ericsson also announced that its chief financial officer, Karl-Henrik Sundstroem, was leaving the company with immediate effect, amid fierce criticism in the media that management was not on top of the situation. The Swedish group reported a net profit of 4 billion kronor (US$620 million) and an operating profit of 5.6 billion kronor, both down by 36 percent from a year ago. Ericsson, like its competitors such as Alcatel-Lucent and Nokia Siemens Networks, are seeing growing competition from Asia, such as China's Huawei (華為), which is pressing margins.

■ Banking

Shinsei slashes forecasts

Japan's Shinsei Bank Ltd yesterday slashed its earnings forecasts for the year because of exposure to the troubled US subprime housing mortgage sector. It is the latest Japanese bank to report effects from the subprime crisis, which has rattled global markets and raised fears of a liquidity squeeze. Shinsei now expects to post net profit of ¥62 billion (US$542 million) in the year to March 31, down by ¥10 billion or nearly 14 percent from the previous projection, a statement said. Shinsei said it was taking the action due to revisions by an affiliate and "prudent provisioning related to our exposure in the US residential mortgage market."

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