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Friday, Feb. 2, 2007

Matsushita net profit up 60% in quarter


Staff writer

Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. said Thursday its net profit jumped 59.7 percent to 78.7 billion yen in the three months to December, thanks to vigorous sales of its plasma display TVs.

Matsushita's sales edged up 2 percent to 2.44 trillion yen in the October-December period.

Matsushita, which makes the popular Panasonic brand, posted an operating profit of 135.8 billion yen, up 5.0 percent from the previous year.

Like other flat-panel display manufacturers, Matsushita had to deal with a sharp fall in prices, especially for its core plasma TVs. The anticipated drop was still a heavy blow to its financial results, but the losses were offset by cost-cutting measures, including a reduction in the number of product parts, as well as a decrease in material prices, the company said.

Between October and December, Matsushita lost 158.8 billion yen in operating profit because of product price reductions.

"We didn't think prices (of PDP TVs) would fall this much," Tetsuya Kawakami, vice president of Matsushita, said. "But we think we did fairly well compared with other companies."

Kawakami said the price of plasma display panels fell an average 25 percent worldwide during the quarter but the figure was 22 percent for Matsushita's products.

Matsushita had the biggest share, of 40.1 percent, of the global plasma display market between October and December, according to market researcher DisplaySearch.

But sales at Victor Company of Japan, in which Matsushita holds a 52.4 percent stake, plunged 17 percent to 17.6 billion yen in the three months to December, pushing down Matsushita's figures.

Matsushita reportedly plans to sell its Victor stake to Kenwood Corp.



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