Panasonic and Toshiba warn of a slowdown

JAPANESE electronics giants Toshiba and Panasonic both admitted trading had been disappointing in the last few months yesterday, and warned that prospects continued to be stormy.

The two heavyweights have struggled to move as quickly as more nimble competitors such as Samsung in key markets like televisions.

Panasonic said it would lose around ¥765bn (£5.9bn) in the financial year, its fourth loss in five years, as it wrote off debts as part of a massive restructuring operation.

Much of the loss was due to writing off investments in solar power, batteries and mobile phones, areas where it has failed to make a splash. The company had previously predicted it would make a slight profit.

Panasonic shares fell by 10 per cent in Tokyo trading yesterday. President Kazuhiro Tsuga is trying to turn the company around by moving away from the consumer electronics divisions and focusing on other areas such as manufacturing equipment.

Toshiba’s update yesterday was less gloomy, but the firm did issue a profit warning, saying it expects operating profit to be ¥260bn this year, rather than the ¥300bn previously estimated, due to uncertainty surrounding the global economy.

Toshiba, which has held up better than the likes of Sony and Panasonic in recent years due to its position in the smartphone chip market, said sales were down 16 per cent in the last quarter to ¥268.6bn.