Digital media, semicon sales buoy Toshiba first half

Toshiba Corp. saw a return to overall profitability in the first six months of the current fiscal year on the back of 5 per cent higher sales, the Tokyo company said Friday.

Toshiba said that consolidated sales rose 5 per cent on the year earlier to 2.6 trillion yen (CDN$32.7 billion as at Sept. 30, the last day of the period being reported) during the period from April to September and operating income was 2.9 billion yen against a 98.4 billion yen loss last year.

The company attributed the improved results to strong sales of digital media devices, such as personal computers and visual equipment, and also said that demand for electronics devices, such as semiconductors, was healthy thanks to demand from makers of digital still cameras, consumer audio-visual products and cellular telephone handsets. As a result, digital media sales rose 18 per cent and electronic devices sales jumped 17 per cent, Toshiba said in a statement.

As a result of the higher sales, the electronic devices business returned to profitability, booking an operating profit of 5 billion yen for the six month period from a loss of 93.5 billion yen a year earlier. Losses were partly stemmed by the company’s withdrawl from the DRAM (dynamic RAM) business in which it had been losing money for some time due to stiff competition and low prices.

In many other areas of Toshiba’s business, conditions remained poor.

Information and communication systems sales fell 8 per cent as telecommunication carriers and the company’s customers in the financial, distribution and manufacturing sectors continued to put off major investment. The company’s power systems sales fell 9 per cent and home appliance sales dropped 5 per cent due to sluggish consumer spending, said Toshiba.

Looking ahead through the second half, which ends in March 2003, Toshiba said it expects the U.S. and Japanese economies to remain sluggish and consolidated net sales to rise 5 per cent to 5.65 trillion yen, operating income to return to profitabilty at 130 billion yen and net income to also bounce back into the black at around 23 billion yen.