Matsushita net income off 23% in 1st qtr.

Slow demand and a soaring yen hampered first-quarter operating results at MCA/Universal parent Matsushita Electric Industrial Co.

For the three months ended June 30, sales and income before income taxes each decreased 7%, while net income plunged 23% to $ 63 million from $ 81 million last year.

The company said its entertainment division sales decreased 2% to $ 1.23 billion from $ 1.25 billion, due mainly to the higher yen value, which more than offset an increase in dollar-based sales when translated into yen for consolidation.

MCA, which represents the major part of this category, actually achieved growth in U.S. dollar value, with increased theatrical revenues and video software sales of films such as “Scent of a Woman,””Death Becomes Her” and “Sneakers.”

Companywide first-quarter sales totaled $ 14.92 billion, compared with $ 16 billion in the year earlier period and operating income for the quarter was off 6% to $ 270 million.

Income before income taxes totaled $ 315 million, compared with last year’s $ 339 million.

Management said that Matsushita’s extensive overseas sales were actually higher than those of the previous first quarter on a local currency basis, but that the yen’s dramatic appreciation caused a decline after translation back into the Japanese currency.

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