Feb. 1 - Japan's Sharp in surprise quarterly loss, forecasts record net loss of $3.8 billion for the year to March. Arnold Gay reports.
Flat panel maker Sharp posted a surprise quarterly loss, and is forecasting a record $3.8 billion net loss for the full year to March. Company president Mikio Katayama blames a slump in its LCD business. (SOUNDBITE) (Japanese) SHARP PRESIDENT MIKIO KATAYAMA SAYING: "The biggest impact on us has been a decline in sales. A drop-off in sales of LCD televisions in Japan has hit us particularly hard." The company is also halving production at one of its LCD plants for three months, to reduce growing inventories. Sharp says the production cut may be extended into the second quarter. The Sakai plant in western Japan can produce 1.3 million 40-inch panels a month. With its focus on larger panels, Sharp had been expected to fare better than rivals like Sony and Panasonic, but slipped to an operating loss of $320 million (24.45 billion yen) for last quarter. Sharp trimmed its full-year forecast for LCD TV sales to 12.8 million from 13.5 million, and expects no operating profit for the full year. (SOUNDBITE) (Japanese) SHARP PRESIDENT MIKIO KATAYAMA SAYING: "We have reduced our expected sales revenue from 2.8 trillion yen to 2.55. We are cutting our operating profit forecasts from 85 billion yen to zero." Japanese electronics makers like Sharp are languishing in a TV market they once dominated, amid sluggish demand and fierce competition from South Korean manufacturers. Arnold Gay, Reuters.