Matsushita reports boost in profits, revs

TOKYO — Cost-cutting efforts and strong overseas sales helped boost Matsushita Electric Industrial Co.’s profits and revenues for the first fiscal quarter of 1997.

Matsushita, the world’s largest consumer electronics firm and owner of 20% of Universal Studios, said sales increased by 10% over figures posted in the first quarter of the last fiscal year to reach 1.9 trillion yen ($16.6 billion). Operating profit was up 65% in the quarter that ended June 30, to hit 73.5 billion yen ($644 million). Operating profit was at 44.4 billion yen in the same quarter in 1996.

Matsushita said the profit gains “reflected the company’s continued efforts to lower manufacturing costs and improve overall management efficiency, as well as the sales gains and favorable effects of the yen’s lower exchange rate during the period.”

Almost all Japanese exporters have benefited from the yen’s approximately 10% drop in value against the U.S. dollar and 16% drop against the British pound over the same period a year ago.

Domestic sales for Matsushita were up by 1% in the quarter to total 910.1 billion yen ($7.98 billion) while overseas sales were up by 20% in the quarter to reach 982.5 billion yen ($8.62 billion). The company said digital camcorders and audio equipment paced the overseas sales.

Information and communications equipment along with industrial equipment were the strongest components of overall sales, recording a 21% sales growth in the period to reach 691 billion yen ($6.06 billion).

Matsushita rival Sony Corp. posted a 22% sales and operating revenue increase for the quarter to reach 1.43 trillion yen ($12.55 billion).

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