Panasonic back in profit after ditching plasmas and phones

In a year that's seen Panasonic giving up on plasma TVs and consumer mobile phones, the Japanese company has finally returned to profit.

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Panasonic is back in profit CNET

It looks like things might pan out for Panasonic: the Japanese company has made a profit for the first time in three years.

Reporting annual financial results on Monday for the fiscal year through March 2014 -- during which Panasonic ditched both plasma TVs and consumer smartphones -- Panasonic celebrates 120.4 billion yen profits ($1.2bn; £710m), compared with a 754 billion yen loss a year earlier.

In the past couple of years Panasonic has been forced to restructure to cut costs and stem the decline, and those changes seem to be finally paying off.

Goodbye plasma, farewell mobile

With over 600 strands to its business including Lumix cameras, Viera televisions and ToughPad rugged tablets, Panasonic has still struggled in recent years. One high-profile casualty of these lean years was Panasonic's plasma TV division, as margins on televisions across the market have been sliced razor-thin.

And unlike other jack-of-all-trades companies like Sony, Panasonic doesn't have much of a mobile presence to prop it up -- certainly in the consumer market, anyway, or outside Japan. The company has flirted with the consumer smartphone market -- remember the Eluga? -- but finally admitted defeat in late 2013.

"Pulling out of non-profitable consumer electronics businesses -- some of them synonymous with the Panasonic brand name -- has helped the firm readjust its portfolio towards automotive and housing products with stronger demand," said industry expert Dr Sotirios Paroutis, associate professor of strategic management at the Warwick Business School.

Panasonic is looking to innovate in areas including automotive mobile tech and wearable gadgets -- not to mention developing an "Aliens"-style power loader.

"Keeping up the pace with innovation investments plus acquisitions and partnerships in these new areas is the next challenge for Panasonic," predicted Dr Paroutis.

Panasonic reckons profits will continue to climb to 140 billion yen this time next year as the economy recovers in the US and Europe.

 

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