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Business trends

Corporate Japan braces for second year of falling profits

Weaker China and stronger yen seen taking a toll on exports

Machinery manufacturers such as robot maker Fanuc are facing declining export earnings. (Photo courtesy of Fanuc)

TOKYO -- Japan's companies are expected to earn less in combined net profit for the year ending March 2020, as the weakening Chinese economy and the yen's strength take their toll on machinery makers and other exporters.

Total net profits are forecast to fall 1.4% to 28.45 trillion yen ($259 billion) for a second straight year of decline, according to Nikkei, which gathered data from the 1,564 listed non-financial companies that released earnings outlooks through Friday.

Net profit for the manufacturing sector is projected to slide 6% to 15.18 trillion yen, offsetting an expected 4% increase in non-manufacturers' profit to 13.27 trillion yen.

Machinery producers, accounting for more than 10% of the total, are particularly hurting. Tokyo Electron sees profit tumbling 34% amid soft demand for semiconductor and display production equipment. Electronic parts supplier Murata Manufacturing is bracing for an 18% drop as smartphone makers adjust output of upmarket models.

Exporters are also facing headwinds from a strengthening yen. At Komatsu, the currency's appreciation is expected to reduce operating profit at its mainstay construction machinery division by about 30 billion yen. Robot maker Fanuc is projecting exchange rates that see the yen around 10% stronger against the dollar and euro, and sees net profit plummeting 60%.

Non-manufacturers paint a brighter picture. Trading house Mitsui & Co. predicts a 9% profit increase, driven by chemicals, hospital operations and other non-resources business. Stepped-up inhouse logistics efforts will likely fuel 60% profit growth at Yamato Holdings.

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