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[TOKYO] Japanese electronics giant Panasonic said Tuesday that its annual profits soared 49 per cent owing to strong results at its lesser-known auto parts unit and lower costs linked to a sweeping restructuring.
The Osaka-based firm's earnings for the fiscal year to March surged to 179.49 billion yen (S$2 billion), although revenue edged down 0.3 per cent to 7.7 trillion yen.
The upbeat figures underscore how Panasonic's shift to focus on lesser-known businesses, including an energy and auto division, has helped boost its bottom line and made it a standout as rivals Sony and Sharp continue to struggle.
Panasonic's auto division makes various products use in vehicles, including electrical components and car navigation systems.
For the current fiscal year, which started this month, Panasonic said it expects a 180 billion yen net profit on revenue of 8.0 trillion yen.
A sharply weaker yen has helped Japan's major exporters as it made them more competitive overseas and inflated the value of repatriated profits.
"Overseas sales increased due mainly to strong sales in (the) automotive-related business along with robust demand, and a positive effect from yen depreciation," it said in a statement.
Panasonic's operating profit jumped 25 per cent to 381.9 billion yen "due to improvement...including (in) business restructuring benefits, fixed cost reductions and materials cost streamlining," it said.
After posting record losses, Panasonic along with rivals Sony and Sharp have launched painful restructurings as falling prices in their television businesses weighed on their bottom line.
As it moves away from consumer products, Panasonic is pulling the plug on its last remaining TV manufacturing factory in China owing to a sharp decline in prices - its TV business has lost money for years.
Panasonic has also signed a deal with US electric carmaker Tesla to build a huge battery-making plant in the United States.