Panasonic cleans house with writedowns, sees $9.6 billion loss

Wed Oct 31, 2012 11:28pm EDT
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By Tim Kelly

TOKYO (Reuters) - Panasonic Corp said it will lose almost $10 billion this business year as it cleans house of poorly performing operations, writing down billions of dollars of goodwill and assets in its mobile and energy units while its new boss readies for a fresh bout of restructuring.

Shares in Panasonic, founded in 1918, plunged by nearly a fifth on Thursday to their lowest in more than three decades.

A day earlier, it forecast a 765 billion yen ($9.6 billion) net loss for the year to March, nearly matching last year's record loss of 772 billion yen. The result would boost its cumulative loss over five years to nearly $25 billion.

Kazuhiro Tsuga, who became Panasonic's president this year, has promised a harsh revamp, to be unveiled by next March, that is expected to beat a path away from money-losing TVs and other consumer electronics.

"It's unfortunate, but we are among the losers in consumer electronics," he told a news conference.

Panasonic's Japanese peers Sharp Corp and Sony Corp have also struggled with heavy losses in TVs and other mainstay electronics goods as more nimble, better-funded rivals - especially South Korea's Samsung Electronics Co - take over turf they once dominated.

Shares in Sharp and Sony, which report quarterly results after the market close on Thursday, also fell.

But Panasonic's multibillion-dollar write offs, including deferred tax assets, are a sign that Tsuga is already scaling back businesses that do not add to the bottom line as a weak global economy takes its toll.   Continued...

A man looks at Panasonic Corp's Viera TVs displayed at an electronics store in Tokyo October 23, 2012. REUTERS/Yuriko Nakao