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2008年5月11日 (日)


(May. 11, 2008)

After 6 years of growth, firms must rejig strategy

3月期決算 6期連続の増収増益の先は(5月11日付・読売社説)

Many listed companies released earnings reports for the business year ending March 2008 in the past several days, and many more are expected this week.


Increased earnings and profits for the sixth consecutive business year are projected for companies listed on the First Section of Tokyo Stock Exchange on the whole. The business year has been marked by good results, particularly among export-oriented firms that have responded well to economic globalization.


But, since early this year, the business environment has rapidly worsened, with the U.S. economy having slowed down due to the subprime loan fiasco and the yen having appreciated against the dollar. In addition, the world has seen a surge in the price of crude oil and other raw materials.

Corporate performances have been hit hard by the headwind created by these three challenges.

だが、年明け以降、経営環境は急速に悪化した。サブプライムローン問題で米国経済が減速し、円高・ドル安が進んだ。原油や原材料価格も高騰した。三重苦と言える逆風が企業業績を直撃した。(headwind =向かい風challenges=難問

The immediate task for Japanese firms is to draw up strategies for ensuring business growth despite the fierce headwind.



Toyota example symbolic


Toyota Motor Corp. symbolizes how the business account settlement turned out for Japanese firms.

The automaker set record highs in sales and operating profits--a measure of its earning power from ongoing operations--on a consolidated basis.

Sales of Toyota vehicles with good fuel economy were robust in the United States and European nations as well as China and other emerging economies. In terms of sales, Toyota surpassed General Motors Corp. of the United States to become the No. 1 carmaker in the world.


燃費効率の良いトヨタ車は、欧米のほか、中国など新興市場でも販売が好調だった。売上高は、米ゼネラル・モーターズ(GM)を抜き、世界1位となった。(robust=強い、壮健な surpass=追い越す

For the current business year ending March 2009, however, the automaker has projected a 5 percent decline in sales to 25 trillion yen from the previous business year. Also, according to its projection, operating profits will be slashed by 30 percent to 1.6 trillion yen. It would be the first major decline in the firm's profits in nine business years.


project­=見積る、算出する projection=予測、見積もり slashed=削減する、切り落とす

Toyota forecast the yen's exchange rate at 100 yen against the dollar for the current business year. A strong yen against the dollar and other exchange rate fluctuations would push operating profits downward by as much as 690 billion yen, it said.

The sales of its cars in North America, Toyota's main market, are expected to remain sluggish, and high prices of raw materials are expected to depress its profits further.


This harsh business environment is also affecting Honda Motor Co. and other carmakers, electrical appliance makers and other export-oriented companies.

Steelmakers, including Nippon Steel Corp., which reported its biggest profits ever in the last business year, all project major declines in their profits in the current business year, burdened by projected high prices of raw materials.



Time to seek other markets


These export-oriented firms had enjoyed business tailwinds--a robust U.S. economy and a weak yen--but those favorable business conditions are now over. In the current business year ending in March, listed companies on the whole are expected to see their first drop in profits in seven business years.

各社は従来、米国の好景気と円安という追い風を受けてきたが、恵まれた経営環境は終わった。上場企業09年3月期決算は、7期ぶりの減益が予想される。(robust U.S. economy=強い米国経済 on the whole=概して、全体的に

But they cannot just stay idle and lament the deteriorating business environment. All companies should come up with ways to meet the three challenges of the subprime mortgage crisis, the strong yen and high raw material prices in their pursuit of robust corporate management.


It is important for them to devise business strategies to rake in sales globally by not being overdependent on the U.S. market--whose growth has been slowing--and by, instead, expanding markets in growing economies such as China and other Asian nations, as well as resource-rich nations, including those in the Middle East.

減速が続く米国市場に過度に依存せず、成長が見込まれる中国を含めたアジアなどの新興国や、中東など資源国を含め、グローバルに稼ぐビジネス体制が重要だ。devise=工夫する rake=かき集める)

Companies must be more selective in choosing which businesses they should pursue or concentrate on so they can better deal with the strong yen and sharpen their competitive edge by cutting costs.

Propping up their domestic markets is another important task for them. That will not be an easy task, but flexible business strategies that can respond promptly to changes in business trends are the key to success.

事業の選択と集中を一段と加速し、円高への抵抗力と、コスト競争力も強化しなければならない。国内市場のテコ入れも課題だ。容易な道ではないが、潮目の変化への機敏な対応がカギを握る。Prop=支える、もたせかける pop up=助ける、支援する)

Some companies, including Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. and Nintendo Co., are projecting increased profits for the current business year.

Each company's strategy for growth is at stake now that the business environment is experiencing a sea change.


sea=大きな is at stake=勝負のときである、賭けられている、危機にひんしている

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, May 11, 2008)

20085110144  読売新聞)


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