Toshiba's profit drops by nearly half to $921 mn

Japan's Toshiba said Tuesday that its full-year net profit fell by almost half to $921 million, hit by a strong yen, weak digital product sales, and last year's natural disasters in Japan and Thailand.

The company said it booked gains on strong sales of electric devices and infrastructure products, such as street lights, said Toshiba, whose operations range from consumer electronics to nuclear power plants.

But the firm's overall profit fell "due to a fluctuation in the foreign exchange and the impact of the earthquake disaster (on March 11, 2011) and floods in Thailand as well as the deterioration of digital products," it said.

While the firm saw a huge fall in profits it fared better than its rivals.

Sony said last month it expected to post full-year loss of 520 billion yen ($6.4 billion), more than five times its loss prediction in November, while Sharp unveiled a record $4.7 billion net loss up to March 2012.

Some of Japan's best-known corporate names -- including Sony and Sharp as well as Panasonic -- have announced management shakeups, layoffs, sales of various businesses and tie-ups with rivals as they struggle to save their bottom lines.

The strong yen has made exporters' products more expensive overseas while eroding the value of foreign-earned profits, amid weak sagging global demand.

Japanese firms were also pounded by last year's quake-tsunami disaster, and flooding in Thailand, which disrupted operations for firms with plants in the Southeast Asian nation.

On Tuesday, Toshiba said its net profit in the fiscal year to March was 73.7 billion yen ($921 million), down 46.5 percent from 137.8 billion yen a year earlier.

Operating profit for the year fell 14.0 percent to 206.6 billion yen on sales of 6.1 trillion yen, down 4.7 percent, it said.

However Toshiba forecast a sales and profit rise for the current fiscal year to March 2013, projecting group net profit at 135.0 billion yen on sales of 6.4 trillion yen.

Last year, Toshiba said it would shut three semiconductor factories in Japan and slow production at a number of other plants as part of a reorganisation of its business, which also includes liquid crystal display televisions

The company's earnings have improved since last fiscal year when it booked a profit for the first time in three business years.

But it slashed its full-year net profit forecast in January by more than half, blaming the yen's strength and losses in its television business.

Electronics manufacturers worldwide are struggling to profit from making TVs amid fierce price competition in the overcrowded, low-margin market.

Japanese firms were also hit hard by sluggish TV demand at home, after record sales last fiscal year thanks to a temporary subsidy as the country shifted to digital terrestrial broadcasting from an analogue system.

Toshiba said television sales came in slightly below a target of 15 million units in its latest fiscal year, but said it was aiming to sell 16 million units in the current business year by expanding sales in emerging markets.

In the fourth quarter alone, Toshiba said its net profit fell about 63.0 percent to 61.6 billion yen on slightly higher sales of 1.75 trillion yen.

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