Japan's tech companies retain full-year profit targets

Reuters

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan's biggest consumer electronic conglomerates signaled a swift recovery from their quake-hit operations, with most of them retaining their profit forecasts for the full year.

Sony Corp and Panasonic Corp however warned of weak TV sales, following Philips and Corning Inc in their outlook for sluggish consumer demand.

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Sony slashed its annual forecast for LCD TVs to 22 million sets from 27 million. Only a better-than-anticipated performance by other units including digital cameras kept the company from cutting its profit outlook.

"The LCD market itself is becoming weaker, so it is not that surprising that it had to reduce its LCD television sales forecast," said Shigeo Sugawara, senior investment manager at Sompo Japan Nipponkoa Asset Management. "What it plans to do with this division is vital," he said.

At a news conference in Tokyo, Panasonic's chief financial officer, Makoto Uenoyama, said the company may not stick to its annual flat-panel TV sales forecast of 25 million units.

The first quarter post quake slump at Panasonic Corp and Sharp Corp was precipitous, but they too beat analysts' consensus estimates and also stuck with estimates made in the wake of a disaster that closed their factories as parts ran out.

Quarterly operating profit at Sony fell 59 percent to 27.5 billion almost double what analysts polled by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S forecast. Panasonic's April-June profit fell to 27.5 billion yen from 67.0 billion yen compared with market estimates of 15.2 billion yen.

"They are facing a lot of competition and also the strong currency. Competition is globally from Korean and Chinese and also the Americans," said Yoji Takeda, Hong Kong-based fund manager at RBC Asia Equity Fund, commenting on Japanese consumer electronic companies.

Sharp's operating profit was a meager 3.5 billion yen, but that was versus market expectations of a loss of 8.2 billion yen.

Sony, the maker of Bravia TVs and PlayStation game consoles left its full-year operating profit outlook unchanged at 200 billion yen, flat on the previous year. Panasonic stuck with 270 billion yen and Sharp kept its 97 billion yen target unchanged.

(Reporting by Isabel Reynolds and Tim Kelly; Editing by Anshuman Daga)

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