Japanese Financial Roundup
Mitsubishi Electric's consumer electronics division posted a 12% increase in sales, totaling $1.6 billion, up from $1.5 billion reported for the same period a year ago. Profits were off, however, which the company attributed to declining prices. Mitsubishi's operating income dropped from $108.2 million for the first quarter in 2002 to $40.9 million for the most recent. Mitsubishi's consolidated sales—the company also makes automobiles and industrial equipment—were $6.2 billion, a 2% rise over the $6 billion a year ago, with overall operating income up 16% to $74.4 million, from $64.2 million in the same quarter a year earlier. Net income slid from $7.1 in the first quarter of 2002 to $5.5 million for the most recent three months.
Sharp Electronics reported a 3.9% rise in sales of audio/video equipment, totaling $1.6 billion for the quarter, up from $1.5 billion in the same period last year. Operating income for Sharp's A/V and communications division was up 17%, at $59.1 million, compared with $50.6 million in the same quarter in 2002. Sharp has enjoyed excellent success with its flat-panel LCD televisions and monitors—up 8.8% from last year—but has suffered from declining sales of personal computers. Operating income for the combined operations (A/V and computers) rose 5.9% during the quarter to $38.2 million, up from $36.1 million for the same period last year. Sharp's consolidated sales hit $4.3 billion in the first quarter, a rise of 7.2% over last year's $4 billion. Operating income was up 12.1% to $242.7 million, compared with $216.6 million in the first quarter a year ago. Net income rose 13.5%, reaching $117.7 million from $103.7 million in the first quarter of 2002.
Hitachi's consumer electronics sales dropped 3%, despite its success with plasma display panels (PDPs) and mobile phones. The company, which also makes heavy equipment, household appliances, and blank media (under the Maxell name), reported a sales decrease to $2.47 billion, from $2.52 billion last year. Hitachi's CE division reported a $4 million operating loss for the quarter, compared with $54.6 million in operating income last year. As did its competitors, Hitachi blamed declining prices. North American sales slid 2% in the first quarter to $1.78 billion, from $1.81 billion in the same period in 2002. Evidence of increasing competition and wider supplies, total revenue from large LCD screens dropped 28% in the first quarter to $216.2 million, from last year's $299.4 million. Hitachi's consolidated sales were up 2% for the quarter to $15.8 billion, compared with $15.5 billion last year, but the company posted an operating loss of $281 million versus last year's $113.9 million. The company predicts a 2% rise in net sales for the first two quarters of this year.
For JVC, consumer electronics sales dropped 13.3% in the first quarter, primarily due to declining demand for older technologies—VCRs, VHS-C video cameras, and CRT-based television sets. JVC reported quarterly sales of $1.2 billion, down from $1.4 billion last year. Bright spots for the electronics maker were DVD players, digital cameras, and projection television sets. JVC is also strong in the audio/video software realm, reporting a 2% sales increase in a category that includes blank media as well as pre-recorded music and video. The company's media and software division posted sales of $301.5 million for the quarter, an appreciable increase over last year's $295.3 million. Overall, JVC's financial picture improved considerably compared to the same period last year: a net income of $619,869, versus 2002's net loss of $15.1 million.