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2012年11月 3日 (土)

電機大手赤字 大胆な成長戦略で復活目指せ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Nov. 3, 2012)
Electronics makers must retool with bold new growth strategies
電機大手赤字 大胆な成長戦略で復活目指せ(11月2日付・読売社説)

The performance of leading electronics makers continues to deteriorate. Faced with intensifying competition from South Korean and other overseas rivals, Japanese firms urgently need to retool their corporate comeback strategies.

Panasonic Corp. has announced it expects to post a consolidated net loss of 765 billion yen in fiscal 2012, a downward revision of its projected business performance. Although the company initially estimated a net profit of 50 billion yen, it now faces a situation as serious as when it posted a colossal loss in fiscal 2011.

According to Panasonic President Kazuhiro Tsuga, "In digital consumer electronics, we've been in the losing group. Even though we went through structural reform, things only improved temporarily. It's a highly unusual situation." His remarks underline the firm's grim situation.

The primary factor behind Panasonic's sizable loss is poor performance in its main product lines--flat-screen TVs, digital cameras and cell phones.


Major merger was a misstep

In a major merger in 2009, Panasonic acquired Sanyo Electric Co. as part of its strategy to replace its TV business with solar and lithium-ion batteries as its core sectors. The purchase, however, turned out to be a miscalculation.

The firm's performance this fiscal year was greatly affected by its decision to make a sizable write-off in sectors including solar batteries. The decision was prompted by the realization that the investment made to acquire Sanyo had been a flop.

To rebuild, Panasonic plans to expedite moves away from money-losing product lines, such as by liquidating overseas flat-screen TV factories. Although we see such moves as appropriate, the company's biggest problem is the lack of a clear growth plan.

How will the electronics giant make progress in its strategic shift toward emphasizing profitability over a focus on sales numbers? It also remains to be seen how quickly it can implement managerial reforms.

Meanwhile, the losses continue for Sharp Corp., which is currently going through a corporate rebuilding process.

Sharp has announced it expects to log a record net loss of 450 billion yen in fiscal 2012, a sizable downward revision of its initial projection.

The outlook is rocky for the firm's small and midsize liquid crystal display business, which the company has seen as its trump card in its overall corporate reconstruction.

With an urgent need for cash, the company must quickly conclude a capital partnership agreement with Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. of Taiwan.


Conditions are tough for all

Sony, on the other hand, is projected to post a profit in the current fiscal year, though its TV business continues to be sluggish. The firm needs to find a new core business that can support continued growth.

All Japanese manufacturers, not only electronics makers, have been exposed to the adverse winds of economic slowdowns overseas, a strongly appreciating yen, and ever-intensifying competition with foreign rivals.

Damage has also been done by declining sales in China, a consequence of the diplomatic tension between Japan and China.

The keys to revival appear to be in discerning the needs of emerging markets with strong growth potential and developing strategically important products through originality and ingenuity.

We find it encouraging that start-up companies producing Japan-made appliances that primarily cater to emerging countries have appeared. These firms possess technological prowess and unique designs.

We hope Japanese electronics makers large and small can shrug off adversity and wield their latent power.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 2, 2012)
(2012年11月2日01時43分  読売新聞)


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