YAITA, Japan (Reuters) - Japan’s money-losing consumer electronics maker Sharp Corp could shut its remaining overseas TV factories but still expects its TV operations to turn profitable next year, a company executive said on Thursday.
Closing TV plants in China and Malaysia “could come up on the agenda as the company is considering various restructuring measures,” Kenichi Kodani, head of Sharp’s digital information appliance division, told reporters during a media tour of its TV plant in Tochigi, eastern Japan.
Sharp sold its TV factory in Poland last year and agreed earlier this year to sell its plant in Mexico to China’s Hisense Group. Sales or closure of its China and Malaysia plants would mean its major TV manufacturing sites are only in Japan.
A pioneer in liquid crystal displays (LCD), Osaka-based Sharp launched its first LCD TV, a three-inch model, in 1987. It was once a highly profitable manufacturer of premium TVs but has struggled to innovate enough to fend off pricing pressure from Asian rivals.
Kodani, however, said the digital information appliance division - whose mainstay business is TVs - is likely to swing to a profit in the fiscal year starting April due to strong demand in Japan for so-called 4K ultra-high definition TV sets.
Late last month, the company forecast the division would log an operating loss of 13 billion yen($105.55 million) in the current fiscal year.
Reporting by Makiko Yamazaki; Writing by Ritsuko Ando; Editing by Christopher Cushing