Sharp sees 23 percent rise in annual operating profit

TOKYO, Jun (Reuters) - Sharp Corp on Friday forecast a 23 percent rise in annual operating profit to 97 billion yen ($1.2 billion) expecting growing demand for smartphones and tablets will boost its sales of small liquid-crystal display (LCD) panels.

That compares with a consensus of 56.8 billion yen operating profit, based on the average of 30 forecasts by analysts polled by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Operating profit in the year to March 2011 was 78.9 billion yen.

The company was forced to suspend production at two TV panel plants, including its state-of-the-art 10th generation factory at Sakai in April, after the March 11 earthquake triggered a plunge in demand and shortages of a gas used in panel production.

Like many of its rivals, Sharp had delayed its annual earnings guidance, as it weighed the impact of the disaster on consumption and its supply chain.

($1 = 80.895 Japanese Yen)

(Reporting by Isabel Reynolds; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)