Panasonic reports quarterly loss on quake, tsunami

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TOKYO (AP) — Panasonic slumped to a 30.4 billion yen ($389 million) quarterly loss, hit by lower sales after the earthquake and tsunami in northeastern Japan.

Panasonic Corp., which makes Viera TVs and Lumix cameras, had reported a 43.7 billion yen profit for the April-June period the previous year.

Panasonic on Thursday maintained its forecast for a 30 billion yen ($385 million) profit for the fiscal year ending March 2012, which would be about half the profit for the previous year.

Like other Japanese manufacturers, Panasonic suffered a huge setback from the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that devastated the northeastern coast and killed more than 22,000 people.

Consumer spending has dropped amid national mourning over the disaster. The tsunami also sent a nuclear power plant into meltdown, spewing radiation into the air and water and contaminating beef, vegetables and other products, further crimping spending.

Panasonic’s quarterly sales dropped 11 percent to 1.93 trillion yen ($25 billion), mainly because of the earthquake, the Osaka-based manufacturer said. Sales were down in flat-panel TVs, auto electronics, cell phones and devices, it said.

Leading business daily The Nikkei reported in its Thursday’s editions that Panasonic is preparing to sell the refrigerator and washing-machine operations in Japan and Southeast Asia of its subsidiary Sanyo to Chinese electronics company Haier.

Panasonic declined comment on the report, except to say an announcement will be made at the appropriate time.

The deal would be the first large-scale sale by a Japanese electronics maker to a Chinese company — reflecting how Chinese makers are taking over the home appliance segment, where the Japanese once dominated.