March 21, 2014 1:42 am JST

Panasonic op profit seen surging 80% for fiscal 2013

OSAKA -- Panasonic Corp.'s group operating profit will likely jump 80% to 290 billion yen ($2.8 billion) for the fiscal year ending March 31, beating its forecast by 20 billion yen, thanks largely to brisk earnings in the housing and automotive businesses.

     Sales are expected to rise 3% to 7.5 trillion yen or so. Amid a tail wind from last-minute demand growth ahead of Japan's April 1 consumption tax hike, domestic housing starts have increased, bolstering sales of housing materials as well as electrical components and other items.

     Automotive products, including car navigation systems and electronics, have also fared well. They have offset declining revenue from televisions, mobile phones and other consumer digital devices.

     A weaker yen has helped, as have savings from cutting bonuses and curbing capital spending. Net income will likely move into the black, recovering from two consecutive years of losses exceeding 750 billion yen. Panasonic will be the first of the three major Japanese appliance companies to log a clear earnings recovery, beating out Sony and Sharp.

     The cost of restructuring such sluggish operations as TVs and semiconductors will be absorbed by growth in non-operating profit from the sale of a health care subsidiary and pension plan changes. Dividends, skipped altogether last fiscal year, will be resumed. The payment is slated to come 13 yen per share this time around.

     In the year ending March 2015, sales are expected to increase 1% to about 7.6 trillion yen, with operating profit rising 3% to a little over 300 billion yen.