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Yaskawa Electric's profit surges 150% for April-September

Company bullish on robotics demand amid reforms in Japan, wage growth in China

TOKYO -- Yaskawa Electric's group net profit jumped 150% on the year in the April-September half to 21 billion yen ($184 million), the company said Monday, topping records for that six-month period thanks to booming sales of industrial robots in China, Japan and the U.S.

"Demand for robots and other devices will rise in the future," Yaskawa President Hiroshi Ogasawara told reporters while announcing first-half results. He expressed high hopes for productivity reforms under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, whose Liberal Democratic Party won Sunday's lower house election in Japan.

"Automation demand among Chinese manufacturers will continue to grow," Ogasawara also said, touching on the rising labor costs in that country.

The Japanese manufacturer's total sales grew 22% to 229.1 billion yen. Yaskawa's Chinese sales soared 34% to 55.5 billion yen as the company snared demand related to smartphones and appliances.

"We received a lot of orders from local Chinese manufacturers" tied to smartphones, Ogasawara said. Though the company gave no regional breakdown on profits, the president said China ranked second only to Japan.

Servo motors, used to power chipmaking equipment and other devices, sold well in mature and emerging economies alike. Automobile-related products were a key driver in the European market.

Yaskawa shifts its fiscal year-end from March to February in the current term. The company now expects 39 billion yen in net profit for the full period, up 9 billion yen from its previous forecast, which still would have topped records. The strong first-half results spurred the manufacturer to raise estimated annual dividends per share from 30 yen to 40 yen.


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