Panasonic gains on plasma TV exit report

Panasonic Corp yesterday said it had not finalised plans to exit its plasma TV business, although it had been studying various options.

The Japanese electronics manufacturer was responding to media reports that said Panasonic was considering exiting from plasma television operations, as it downsized its television business over three years starting from next financial year.

''The media report is not on any official announcements by Panasonic. Though the Company has been studying various plans for the strategy of the businesses, nothing has been decided,'' it said in a statement.

Meanwhile, the company's shares rose to a six-week high in Tokyo after reports said that it was considering an exit from the plasma television business and might sell its health-care business.

The company was cutting jobs and reducing its number of business units as it forecast a net loss of  76 billion in the fiscal year ending 31 March amid competition from Apple Inc and Samsung Electronics Co.

According to spokeswoman Chieko Gyobu, the company was ''seeking various growth strategies for the TV business.''

Spokeswoman Megumi Kitagawa said yesterday, that it was considering options for the growth of its health unit.

President Kazuhiro Tsuga has plans to cut the number of units to 56 from 88, in a bid to focus on those offering the widest profit margins. These included such as little-known operations such as beauty appliances and welding machinery.

The Nikkei reported  that the company was considering exiting the plasma TV business while reducing production of liquid-crystal displays and increasing outsourcing to companies including LG Electronics Inc.   

According to Nikkei it was considering selling the unit that marketed devices to check blood sugar levels and hearing aids for as much as 100 billion. It said without citing anyone that the move formed part of plan for selling ''non-core'' businesses.

The health-care unit posted an operating loss of 8.8 billion for the fiscal year ended March 2012, on sales of 133.6 billion, according to the Nikkei.

Earlier, this month the company agreed to sell a building in Tokyo for about 50 billion to Sumitomo Mitsui Finance & Leasing Co. and Nippon Building Fund Inc.

Meanwhile, according to an AFP report, company last month said it logged a nine-month operating profit of 121.95 billion despite its whopping net loss, attributing the positive result to "mainly to fixed cost reductions and streamlining material costs".

The report said, weak demand for flat-panel televisions, though, helped push total sales down 8.8 per cent to 5.44 trillion yen.

AFP reported Panasonic as saying that nothing had been decided yet, adding however, that discussions on the business strategy were ongoing.