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Sharp reported a net loss of 545.3 billion yen in the year to March. Photo: Reuters

Sharp logs record loss but says profits will return

Second year in the red follows slump in demand from China, prompting chief's replacement


Japanese electronics giant Sharp yesterday posted a record annual loss for the second year in a row, and said it would replace its chief after just one year on the job.

The maker of Aquos-brand electronics reported a net loss of 545.3 billion yen (HK$41.6 billion) in the year to March, its worst shortfall, after losing 376 billion yen in the previous year.

However, Sharp said it expected to return to profitability this fiscal year.

"We apologise for having to book huge losses for two straight years," executive director Tetsuo Onishi said after the results announcement.

Sharp, which is undergoing a massive restructuring, said company veteran Kozo Takahashi would become its new president, replacing Takashi Okuda, who was set to become chairman, a title that often precedes retirement in big Japanese companies. Okuda was appointed to the top job in April last year.

The changes are part of a wider management shuffle at the firm, which said the record net loss was largely due to charges stemming from its overhaul.

However, problems in its long-suffering television business showed few signs of abating as sales "fell drastically", it said.

Sharp blamed the downturn on sluggish demand at home and in the key Chinese market, where a consumer boycott of Japanese brands erupted last year over a territorial dispute between Beijing and Tokyo.

"Mobile phone sales also declined, due mainly to supply shortages of key components in the first half of this fiscal year and severe competition with overseas manufacturers," Sharp said.

On a more positive note, demand for Sharp's liquid crystal display panels jumped on big demand for small and medium-sized LCDs used in smartphones and tablets.

Sales in the latest period were 2.48 trillion yen, up from 2.46 trillion a year earlier, Sharp said, adding that it was on track to eke out a small 5 billion yen net profit this year.

But "we anticipate the overall business environment will remain unpredictable", it added.

Koki Shiraishi, an analyst with SMBC Nikko Securities, said Sharp would not be able to turn itself around without rolling out more "competitive products".

Sharp's shares closed up 4.94 per cent at 531 yen yesterday, before the company released its earnings results.

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: Sharp logs record loss but says profits will return