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Panasonic losses balloon to �5.4bn

Panasonic's losses ballooned to 698 billion yen (£5.4 billion) in the second quarter.

The figures, announced today, proved far worse than the 105.8 billion yen (£827 million) loss racked up for the July-September period last year.

The Osaka-based maker of Viera TVs and Lumix digital cameras revised its full year forecast from an earlier projection of a 50 billion yen (£391 million) profit to a massive annual loss of 765 billion yen (£6 billion).

Panasonic sank to a record loss of 772.2 billion yen (£6.04 billion) for the year to March 2012 - among the biggest in Japan's manufacturing history.

Its problems are emblematic of the overall Japanese electronics industry. Panasonic's rival Sony racked up a record annual loss of 457 billion yen (£3.6 billion) in its fourth straight year of red ink.

Panasonic's quarterly sales sank 12 per cent to 1.82 trillion yen (£14.2 billion) as a global slowdown, the falling price of electronics products and competition from cheaper Asian makers chipped away at sales. Sales in Japan dipped 11 per cent, while overseas sales shrank 14 per cent.

Panasonic has been trying to expand operations which cater to other businesses, instead of consumers, by beefing up its solar panel and battery divisions, including car batteries.

But such shifts are expected to take some time, and those sectors have also been hit by price declines.

Panasonic lowered its sales forecast for the full year to March 2013 to 7.3 trillion yen (£57 billion), down from an earlier 8.1 trillion yen (£63 billion). Even the more pessimistic figure falls short of last year's sales at 7.85 trillion yen (£61 billion).

The company also said it expects to book restructuring expenses of 440 billion yen (£3.4 billion) for the year, bigger than the originally estimated 41 billion yen (£320 million).

Panasonic and other Japanese electronics firms have struggled despite the popularity of smartphones and other mobile devices as the market, including Japan, has been dominated by Apple of the US and South Korea's Samsung.

Panasonic said today that it will boost the efficiency of its operations by merging three group companies focusing on mobile phones and network systems.

During the first half of the financial year, Panasonic's sales grew in appliances and automotive systems, but declined in TVs, digital cameras, Blu-ray recorders, mobile phones, printers and semiconductors, according to the company.

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