Sharp Expects Sales to Keep Falling as It Reports First Loss

Sharp, one of the world's largest manufacturers of LCD panels for televisions and computers, reported a big drop in sales and a net loss for the year just ended with sales forecast to drop even more in the current year.

The annual loss is the company's first since it listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange in 1956 and could have been worse had Sharp not managed profits in Europe and China to offset losses in Japan and the Americas.

The net loss for the period from March 2008 to April 2009 was ¥126 billion (US$1.3 billion as of the last day of the period being reported), which is a big drop from the net profit of ¥102 billion it made in the previous year. Sales were down 17 percent at ¥2.85 trillion.

Sharp blamed the poor results on the global recession and the strength of the Japanese yen, which has made its products more expensive overseas and reduced the value of profits brought back to Japan.

Sales were broadly down across the board and there were few bright spots.

By region Sharp managed to increase sales in China by 0.2 percent to ¥642 billion. Sales in all other regions were down with the sharpest fall seen in the Americas where they fell by 23 percent. Europe was close behind with a drop of 22 percent.

By product category sales were down across the board with a single exception: Sharp managed a 4 percent rise in sales of solar panels as consumers and companies continued to express an interest in the products despite the recession.

Price competition in the LCD television market also impacted the company, which reported increased unit sales but a lower sales amount because of falling prices.

For the current year it expects sales to fall to ¥2.75 trillion but to manage a net profit of ¥3 billion.

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