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Bad news for Panasonic as HDTVs drag down earnings

The company reports that its sales were down 10 percent compared to last year and that it posted a massive net loss for the fiscal year.

Panasonic TC-P55VT30
Panasonic says its television sales plummeted. Sarah Tew/CNET

Panasonic has joined a growing list of Japan-based companies that suffered through a difficult 2011 and early 2012.

The company today announced that it generated 7.8 trillion yen ($97.6 billion) during the fiscal year ended March 31, down 10 percent compared to the prior year. What's worse, it lost 772 billion yen ($9.7 billion) during the 12-month period, reversing the 74 billion yen profit it generated in the prior year.

Although Panasonic said that the losses were due in part to natural causes, including the floods in Thailand and the earthquake in Japan, the company also acknowledged that its television sales -- once a key component in its operation -- plummeted.

According to Panasonic, its LCD television sales were down 28 percent compared to the prior year. Its plasma television sales slumped even more, dropping 41 percent.

Panasonic has now become the third Japan-based tech giant to have a difficult 2011-2012 fiscal year. Sony announced yesterday that its revenue was down 9.6 percent during the same period, ending the year at $79.2 billion. It lost $5.55 billion during its fiscal year. That announcement came just a couple of weeks after Nintendo reported a $532.5 million loss on $8 billion in revenue.

Both Sony and Panasonic are in the process of instituting dramatic changes to allay investor fears and get their operations back on track. Sony has a massive reorganization under way, called "One Sony," that aims at bringing the company back to profitability this year. Panasonic, which is currently in the midst of its own realignment, says it will make decisions this year based on three basic guidelines -- "focus on profitability," "strengthen products," and "take initiatives to change itself and make changes."

If all goes well, Panasonic says, it should be able increase revenue to 8.1 trillion yen for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2013, and watch its losses turn back to a profit of 50 billion yen.

Panasonic's shares are down nearly 2 percent to $7.07. In the last year, the company's stock has watched its value fall by 42 percent.