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April 28, 2017

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Japan's Sharp Corp. projects US$5.6 billion annual loss

TOKYO -- Embattled Japanese electronics maker Sharp said Thursday it would book a US$5.6 billion annual net loss in the wake of a huge restructuring, nearly double its earlier forecast.

Sharp has suffered deep losses in its television business with the maker of Aquos-brand electronics saying it would lose 450 billion yen in the fiscal year to March, dwarfing its previous prediction of a 250-billion-yen shortfall.

Sharp also cut its sales forecast to 2.46 trillion yen from 2.50 trillion yen, while saying it lost 387.58 billion in the first half of the current fiscal year to March, from a year-earlier loss of 39.82 billion yen.

Like rivals Panasonic and Sony, Sharp has struggled in its television business amid falling prices and stiff competition from overseas rivals. Sharp was also struggling in its once-proud liquid crystal display (LCD) business.

"Our business environment continued to be severe, due to drastic price drops of products and devices, production delay of new small- and medium-size LCDs ... and a worse-than-expected drop in sales of LCD TVs in Japan and China," the firm said.

"Sales of LCD TVs fell drastically ... This was due mainly to decreased demand in Japan and a drop in sales in China caused by deteriorating Japan-China relations," it said in a statement.

Tokyo and Beijing have been embroiled in an increasingly hostile diplomatic spat over ownership of an East China Sea island chain with the row sparking a tumble in demand among Chinese consumers for Japan-branded exports.

Japanese manufacturers have also been pounded by the strong yen, which makes their products pricier overseas and shrinks the value of firms' repatriated foreign income.

Sharp is undergoing a painful restructuring in its efforts to return to profitability, promising thousands of job cuts while cutting wages for employees — from the factory floor to the executive boardroom — and selling real-estate to shore up its bleeding balance sheet.

An expected capital injection from Taiwan's Hon Hai Precision, which makes Apple gadgets in China, has stalled.

Japanese media have reported Sharp is in talks with U.S. tech giants Apple, Google and Microsoft on forming business and capital tie-ups.

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