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May 29, 2017

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Sharp returns to full-year profit in March

TOKYO--Struggling Japanese electronics maker Sharp said Monday it had swung back to profit for the full year to March after two years of huge losses, thanks to stronger sales and cost-cutting.

The Osaka-based company booked an 11.56 billion yen (US$114 million) net profit in the 12-month period, reversing an eye-watering net loss of 545.35 billion yen a year earlier.

Sales jumped 18.1 percent to 2.93 trillion yen on brisk demand for panels, including its popular "IGZO" displays for smartphones.

"We have produced unique devices and products while we have strengthened sales activities" including 4K high-definition television sets, IGZO displays and solar cells, Sharp said in a statement.

"In addition, we implemented comprehensive operational improvement measures such as cutting inventory and curbing investment," it said.

At the operating level, it also achieved a profit of 108.56 billion yen, compared with an operating loss of 146.27 billion yen the previous year.

Sharp has been undergoing a huge restructuring process to pare losses largely tied to its ailing electronics business.

That resulted in a 146.3 billion yen saving in reduced fixed costs and asset sales, while a 108.6 billion yen boost to sales contributed to the return to operating profit, it said.

Electronics appeared to have turned a corner in the year to March, with sales surging 17.9 percent on-year to 1.32 trillion yen.

Sales in digital information appliances — including televisions and smartphones — were almost flat at 733 billion yen but sales of solar cells surged 68.9 percent to 439 billion yen, it said.

For the current year to March 2015, Sharp now forecasts 30 billion yen net profit and 100 billion yen operating profit on 3 trillion yen sales.

"We will make efforts to produce revolutionary products and solutions that will address the needs of our customers, seeking to move on to the 'regrowth stage' from the 'restructuring stage,'" it said.

Japanese electronics makers have struggled in recent years, largely because of huge losses in their television units, but a sharply weaker yen over the past year has helped to boost their bottom lines.

Sharp's bigger rival Panasonic said last month it had booked its first annual net profit in three years and reversed a huge loss suffered in the previous 12 months as it presses on with a sweeping restructuring.

Panasonic said net profit hit 120.44 billion yen in its fiscal year to March, after suffering a loss of 754.25 billion yen a year earlier, while revenue ticked up to 7.74 trillion yen from 7.30 trillion yen.

Panasonic credited the weaker yen for its healthier results, and pointed to an uptick in its auto-related businesses on the back of a global recovery.

Sony, which earlier this month warned it would report a bigger-than-expected annual loss due to costs tied to its exit from the personal computer business, will release its earnings report on Wednesday.

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