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Panasonic: LCD panel demand will bring us 'back to profit'

Will LCD panel sales make up for low demand in a struggling television industry? Panasonic is betting on it.

Panasonic says that rising demand for LCD panels will bring the company's display business back to profit in early 2013.

In the three months leading up to March 31, 2013 -- the end of its current fiscal year -- Japan-based Panasonic hopes that its panel display business will result in a profitable quarter due to rising demand from tablet and PC makers.

The ailing firm's display unit is expected to strengthen the fourth-quarter financial report as liquid crystal display (LCD) panels become a hotter commodity. In a change of business tactics, Panasonic is turning away from flat-screen displays for a television industry that is suffering slower consumer demand. The company is instead focusing on smaller screen development.

Smaller screens are used for a variety of smartphones and tablets. To this end, Panasonic Senior Vice President Yoshio Ito told Reuters that the company is "now making displays for more than 10 models of tablets and PCs." He spoke from a research and development unit in Osaka, Japan -- once a television-making factory.

Ito said that sales of LCD panels are expected to generate roughly 60 percent of the unit's sales during the October-March second half of its fiscal year, compared with 30 percent in the first half.

Panasonic has suffered in the last few years due to poor consumer demand and a fragile global economy. In a recent interview with Reuters, Panasonic finance boss Hideaki Kawai said that the firm will cut 10,000 jobs before the end of March as part restructuring efforts designed to improve Panasonic's financial state. During the last fiscal year, the electronics company axed 36,000 jobs worldwide.

Rival Japanese firm Sharp, currently experiencing financial difficulties, is also making the transition from flat-panel LCD television screens to displays for mobile devices.