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Robot maker Fanuc logs 43% profit growth on Chinese demand

Control devices for machine tools also help lift April-September earnings

A Fanuc plant in Yamanashi Prefecture.

TOKYO -- Japanese industrial robot maker Fanuc said Wednesday its net profit climbed 43% on the year to 85.7 billion yen ($750 million) for the six months through September on brisk demand in China and elsewhere.

Sales for the fiscal half grew 35% to 347.6 billion yen, nearing 2015's record April-September tally of 349.9 billion yen.

Chinese manufacturers are increasingly adopting cutting-edge robots to reduce labor and other costs. Demand for factory robots is also strong in labor-hungry markets such as Japan and the U.S. Sales from the company's robot division rose 24% to 109.7 billion yen, a record for the first half.

In the factory automation division, sales of computer numerical control systems -- the "brains" of machine tools -- grew in such markets as China, South Korea and Japan. China's government-led push to upgrade its manufacturing industry means "demand for technologically advanced Japanese machine tools is rising," according to Yukio Iimura, chairman of the Japan Machine Tool Builders' Association.

The robomachine division, which covers small cutting tools, also performed well, with sales soaring 90% to 90 billion yen. Demand from contract electronics manufacturers in Taiwan and elsewhere, geared toward Apple's new iPhones, appears to have provided a boost.

But demand related to smartphones and other information technology "is temporary, and cannot be counted on to last long," Chairman Yoshiharu Inaba told analysts on a July conference call, indicating the company is cautious about the future of the robomachine business.

Based on its strong April-September earnings, Fanuc on Wednesday revised its full-year net profit forecast to a 29% increase to 164.9 billion yen, up from its previous projection of 131.5 billion yen.

Fanuc is based in Yamanashi Prefecture, bordering Tokyo.


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