July 29, 2015 / 7:39 AM / 3 years ago

Panasonic first-quarter profit falls 7 percent as housing tech sales decline

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan’s Panasonic Corp on Wednesday reported a 7 percent decline in first-quarter operating profit, missing analyst estimates, as sales fell in its appliances and housing technology businesses.

Exhibitors prepare the Panasonic exhibit space ahead of the International Consumer Electronics show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada January 5, 2015. The show officially opens on January 6. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

Profit for April-June fell to 76.56 billion yen ($619.02 million) from the same period a year prior, compared with the 92.7 billion yen average estimate of 19 analysts polled by Thomson Reuters. Sales rose 0.3 percent to 1.86 trillion yen.

While still known as a consumer electronics maker, Panasonic in recent years has turned its attention to new businesses such as high-tech auto parts and energy-saving home systems to escape cut-price competition in smartphones and TVs.

Its partnership with Tesla Motors Inc has been a key part of that shift. Panasonic plans to shoulder around 30 percent to 40 percent of investment in Tesla’s Gigafactory plant in Nevada, which is due to cost up to around $5 billion.

The company has also said it was ready to spend 1 trillion yen on acquisitions over the next four years, and around 200 billion yen in the current fiscal year alone, to bolster its automotive and housing technology businesses.

On Wednesday, Panasonic said appliance sales fell 3 percent to 599 billion yen as the firm cut back TV marketing. Sales in housing technology also declined 4 percent to 370.2 billion yen due to a slow housing market and weak demand for solar panels.

The company said it continued to expect operating profit to rise 13 percent to 430 billion yen for the full year to March 31. It expects sales to rise 3.7 percent to 8 trillion yen.

Panasonic shares closed up 0.8 percent ahead of the results, versus a 0.1 percent fall in the broader market.

($1 = 123.6800 yen)

Reporting by Joshua Hunt; Editing by Christopher Cushing

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