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Panasonic reports £2.6bn loss

Record net profit turns to loss in 12 months

Panasonic head office Bracknell

Panasonic has today posted a £2.6 billion loss, becoming the latest in a string of Japanese electronics firms to report a steep slide into the red amid tumbling global demand.

The firm reported the loss for the 12 months to the end of March, but warned of continuing difficulties this financial year. It is a major reversal of fortune for Panasonic, which last year posted a record net profit of 281.9 billion yen (£2 billion).

The firm, which makes a wide variety of electronic products from LCD and plasma televisions to digital cameras, saw sales slump 14.4%. Panasonic, in common with other Japanese manufacturers, has also been hit by the effects of a stronger yen.

In a statement the company said: ‘Panasonic expects that the economic environment in 2010 will be more severe than the past fiscal year, as the global recession and shrinking demand triggered by the financial crisis coincide with changes in market structure, including the expansion of emerging markets and a shift to lower-priced products.’

Which? tech expert Al Warman said: ‘Panasonic products generally perform well in Which? tests, with many of its Viera LCD and plasma TVs being Which? Best Buys. Unfortunately, as the economic downturn grips consumers, a 46-inch plasma might be seen as a luxury item, and they seek cheaper alternatives.

‘Consumers who are tempted by cheaper supermarket own-brand electronics should read our expert guide to cheap electronics, so they don’t end up wasting money on a substandard product that turns out to be a false economy.’ 

Sony also shows billion pound loss

Yesterday, rival electronics firm Sony reported its first annual net loss in 14 years of 165 billion yen (£1 billion) and forecast a bigger loss this year.

Sony, which makes Bravia flat-panel TVs and Cyber-shot digital cameras, said it is closing three plants in Japan to help turn its business around. It is also in the process of cutting 16,000 workers.

Sanyo Electric also posted losses yesterday. The firm, which is being acquired by Panasonic, said it booked a net loss of 93.2 billion yen (£643 million) for the fiscal year, but expects to turn a small profit this year.

Panasonic said its 378.96 billion yen loss (£2.6 billion) was down to high restructuring costs as well as the impact of foreign exchange and low demand. The firm had 367.4 billion yen (£2.5 billion) in restructuring costs as well as 92 billion yen (£635 million) in equity write-downs. t predicts it will make a loss of 195 billion yen (£1.3 billion) this year.

© 2009 Press Association 

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