Sanyo reports big first-half loss

Sanyo Electric Co. lost more money in the first half of the current financial year than it had been expecting to lose all year, it said Friday.

The troubled company, which earlier this year replaced its chief executive officer (CEO), said its net loss in the April to September period was YEN 142.5 billion (AUD$1.63 billion as of the last day of the period being reported) against a net profit of YEN 3.4 billion in the same period a year ago. It had been predicting a full year net loss of YEN 140 billion but on Friday revised this to YEN 233 billion.

Revenue during the first half fell 6 percent to YEN 1.2 trillion, it said. For the full year it expects revenue of YEN 2.4 trillion, down slightly compared to last year.

"We're getting hit by prices coming down, competition in digital products, and our home electronics business isn't in profit," said Ryan Watson, a spokesman for Sanyo in Tokyo.

In April this year the company appointed Tomoyo Nonaka as its CEO. The appointment came after Sanyo suffered a big net loss for the year and was a surprise partly because Nonaka is a woman, and female CEOs are still unusual in Japan, and partly because she was best known to many Japanese from her previous career as a TV news anchor.

Nonaka's mid-term management plan, announced in July, included cutting the company's work force of 96,000 by about 15 percent over three years and the sale of about 20 percent of the 2 million square meters of land its factories occupy in Japan. Under Nonaka's hand the company will put more emphasis on environmentally friendly technologies and systems.

Specifically the company is planning to push its battery, cell phone, digital camera and commercial equipment businesses, the latter of which includes heating and ventilation equipment, said Watson. Other sectors, including Sanyo's white goods and audio-visual businesses, are to be examined prior to the company making a decision on what measures to take.

The first product to come from this new focus went on sale in Japan this week.

The "eneloop" battery is a rechargeable battery that can be supplied to users ready-to-use. Sanyo is a major manufacturer of battery technology and believes one of the main obstacles to mass adoption of rechargeable batteries in favor of throw-away dry cells is that they require recharging before use.

The new battery loses its charge much more slowly than conventional rechargeable cells and so it's ready to go as soon as a customer pulls it out of its package. Once used it can be recharged around 1,000 times.

The company's shares have been among the worst performing on the Tokyo Stock Exchange this year. After hitting a 1-year high in January of YEN 370 per share, they fell to a low point of YEN 237 in October. On Friday they closed at YEN 292. Sanyo announced its results just after the market closed.

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Martyn Williams

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