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Wednesday, October 30, 2002
Matsushita Electric reports second straight quarter of profits

Brisk sales of televisions and DVD machines combined with cost-cutting to push Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. into the black for the second-straight quarter, the company reported Wednesday.

The Osaka, Japan-based maker of the Panasonic brand posted net earnings of 13.5 billion yen (US$111 million) in the second quarter ended September, compared with a loss of 50.1 billion yen in the same quarter last year.

Sales rose 4 percent to 1.780 trillion yen (US$14.60 billion) during the quarter, driven by aggressive marketing and strong sales of DVD recorders, plasma display panels and cellular telephones, the company said.

The improvement in both earnings and sales was a welcome change for Matsushita, Japan's largest electronics maker, after the global electronics slump and competition from less expensive Asian rivals tipped the company into the red last year.

Matsushita posted a loss of 431 billion yen (US$3.6 billion) in 2001 — the worst loss since the company's founding 80 years ago. Sales nose-dived in almost all divisions including cell phones, electronics parts, home appliances and industrial equipment.

To shift into profitability, Matsushita has carried out a job-cutting program that has reduced its work force by 9 percent to 266,500 this year, from 293,300 in 2001.

In the first quarter ended June 30 this year, the company posted a net profit of 4.3 billion yen (US$36 million), reversing a loss of 19.4 billion yen a year ago. For the first half of year, revenues rose 4 percent to 3.537 trillion yen (US$28.99 billion), from 3.386 trillion yen in the first half of 2001.

The company said it expects earnings to keep growing during the remainder of the current financial term. It forecasts full-year sales of 7.05 trillion yen (US$57 billion) and a net profit of 37 billion yen (US$303 million) for the year ending in March, 2003.

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