Toshiba reports deep loss despite PC gains

Toshiba reports deep loss despite PC gains

Toshiba, despite a recovery in its PC business, recorded a consolidated net loss of 13.9 billion yen ($US115 million), for the year ended March 31, 1999. It was the company's first group loss since 1975.

The Tokyo-based maker of PCs, chips and electrical equipment said that consolidated sales for the year fell 3 per cent to 5.3 trillion yen ($US43.8 trillion). Pretax profit on a consolidated basis fell 40 per cent compared with last year to 11.2 billion yen, the company said.

Toshiba said that sales of electronic devices, including memory chips and flat panel displays, were hit hard by industry-wide price declines.

Officials added that the company has successfully turned around its PC business, which in the previous fiscal year was deep in the red. In the fiscal year just ended, the group cleared up an excess inventory problem and posted an operating profit of 50 billion yen, they said. Over the same period, the company shipped 2.9 million PCs worldwide, of which nearly 80 per cent were sold in the US and Europe, they said.

"We think our products regained their competitiveness and we reduced our inventory in the US," said one official reached today. Toshiba is the world's largest maker of notebook PCs. The company expects to ship 3.5 million PCs worldwide, he said.

Though Toshiba's losses will likely be surpassed on Friday when crosstown rival NEC announces its results, the company's woes are typical of Japan's troubled computer vendors. Japan's protracted recession has pounded the profits of the Japan's big four computer makers in recent years just as price competition in many of their core product areas -- including memory chips and PCs -- have hurt them abroad.

Toshiba in January announced restructuring that will consolidate 15 business groups into eight autonomous "in-house" companies operating under one corporate umbrella. The group companies will each manage their own books and more emphasis will be put on the companies' meeting financial objectives.

For the current fiscal year, ending March 31, 1999, Toshiba expects the restructuring will bring it back in the black with a consolidated net income of 25 billion yen on revenues of 5.7 trillion yen, an 8 per cent rise on last year, the company said.

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