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Sony Q1 loss widens, cuts FY earnings forecast
by Staff Writers
Tokyo (AFP) Aug 2, 2012

Sony said Thursday its fiscal first-quarter net loss widened to 24.6 billion yen ($313.5 million) while it cut its profit forecast for the year as the struggling Japanese firm overhauls its business.

The consumer electronics and entertainment giant's latest loss dwarfed the 15.5 billion yen shortfall it reported in the same period a year ago.

Quarterly revenue rose 1.4 percent to 1.51 trillion yen while the company said it squeezed out an operating profit of 6.28 billion yen.

Sony also said it now expected a 20 billion yen full-year profit, down from an earlier projection of 30 billion yen for the year through March 2013.

"The operating environment for Sony in the first quarter... continued to be severe due to factors including a slowing of the global economy and entrenchment of the appreciation of the yen exchange rate," it said in a statement.

Sony said it lowered its full-year profit forecast "in anticipation of a severe operating environment from the second quarter onward resulting from uncertain foreign exchange rates and trends in the global economy".

Japanese exporters including Sony have been hammered by a strong yen -- which hit record highs against the dollar late last year and remains strong -- because it makes their products pricier overseas while shrinking the value of their foreign-earned income.

In April, Sony said it would cut about 10,000 jobs and spend nearly $1.0 billion on an overhaul that its new chief Kazuo Hirai described as "urgent".

Sony has vowed a return to the black after losing 456.66 billion yen in the year to March, its fourth consecutive annual loss.

The losses have been particularly acute in Sony's television business, where Japanese electronics firms have been hurt by a strong yen, shrinking profit margins and stiff competition from foreign rivals.

Piracy has threatened its music and film assets while Sony was also hurt by last year's quake-tsunami disaster.

As part of the overhaul, Sony said in June it would sell its chemical products division for about 58 billion yen, while teaming up with rival Japanese electronics giant Sharp on developing televisions with advanced technology.

Despite a long-standing rivalry, the firms said they would aim to establish mass-production technology for organic light-emitting diode (OLED) television panels next year, as they try to recover from multi-billion-dollar losses.

The technology lets producers make TVs that consume less power while offering a sharper picture than conventional flat panels, and is expected to be one of the dominant technologies in next-generation televisions.

However, the industry has struggled to find an economical way to develop larger screens equipped with the technology.

In June, Sony shares tumbled below 1,000 yen for the first time since 1980 and the era of the Walkman, sending the value of the company crashing to less than a tenth of what it was just over a decade ago.

On Thursday, Sony shares closed up 2.44 percent at 964 yen with the earnings results published after markets closed.

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Japan's Renesas forecasts annual net loss of $1.9 bn
Tokyo (AFP) Aug 2, 2012 - Troubled Japanese microchip maker Renesas Electronics said on Thursday it expected a net loss of 150 billion yen ($1.9 billion) for the current fiscal year to March 2013.

The whopping figure comes after Renesas logged a net loss of 62.6 billion yen for the full year to March 2012 on revenues of 883.11 billion yen.

The firm blamed the widening shortfall on a one-time loss tied to an early retirement programme in the first half of this year as well as other restructuring expenses.

Last month, Renesas announced it will cut more than 5,000 domestic jobs as part of a bid to save 43 billion yen annually and reorganise domestic production to concentrate on its mainstay businesses.

Japan's microchip sector has struggled with a strong yen and fierce competition, especially from South Korean and Taiwanese rivals.

Japanese manufacturers, including Renesas, were also hit by last year's quake-tsunami disaster.

Earlier this year, Renesas said it would boost outsourcing of its chip production to Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., including a bigger share of its output of microcontrollers -- key components in vehicles and home appliances.

Last month, the company's president said he had won agreement for financial help from top shareholders, the technology giants NEC, Hitachi and Mitsubishi Electric, along with creditor banks.

For the first quarter to June, the company reported a net loss of 20.76 billion yen, compared with 33.22 billion yen in the same quarter last year.

Revenue was down about 10 percent to 186.61 billion yen, compared with 207.23 billion yen a year ago, it said.

The company blamed a slow recovery in the global economy, especially in Europe and China.

"In addition, the yen continued becoming stronger against the euro which was the main factor for the decrease in sales," it said.

Japanese manufacturers have been grappling with a strong yen -- which hit record highs against the dollar last year and remains strong -- as it makes their products pricier overseas and shrinks foreign-earned income.

Renesas has said it will focus on foreign markets and microcontroller chips used for next-generation energy-efficient vehicles and various electronic appliances as part of a major overhaul of its business.


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China's leaders call for prioritising stable growth
Beijing (AFP) July 31, 2012
China's top leaders warned of continued downward pressure on the world's second-largest economy and vowed to make economic growth a top priority, state press reported Tuesday. "Looking at the domestic economy, the most obvious problem is downward pressure remains substantial," Xinhua news agency quoted Premier Wen Jiabao as saying at a meeting of top politicians. "We must resolutely main ... read more

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