Panasonic warns of net loss at $10 billion

Japan's Panasonic Corp sounded an annual loss warning of $10.2 billion net, joining rivals Sony and Sharp in the red as they continue to struggle to fix their crumbling TV businesses  and show they are on track.

Panasonic has estimated a loss of 780 billion yen for the year to March falling much short of expectations, and which stems largely from restructuring charges and writedowns for its Sanyo Electric unit.

At a press briefing in Tokyo yesterday, Panasonic president Fumio Ohtsubo, apologising for the unprecedented loss, said, "I feel the responsibility for the huge amount.''

However, he offered no sign that he would step aside and allow someone else try to revamp the sprawling consumer electronics giant, as Sony's boss Howard Stringer had done.

Sony on Thursday warned of a bigger-than-expected annual loss, announcing a change of guard with Kazuo Hirai taking over from Stringer as CEO in April, leading to an 8 per cent jump in its share price yesterday, its biggest one-day percentage gain in almost a year.

"We will accelerate our profit structure reform and make sure we achieve a V-shaped performance improvement in the next business year," Ohtsubo told reporters instead.