Matsushita feels pinch

Electronics co.'s 1st qtr. profits fell 55% to $229 mil

TOKYO — The Asian slump and Japan’s recession have finally hit Japanese electronics firm Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., which said on Tuesday its first quarter profits plunged by 55% to 33.1 billion yen ($229 million) from figures posted a year ago.

The company, along with rival Sony Corp., has been able to post solid earnings figures during the Asian economic crisis because of the weak yen, which helps boost their exports.

In the previous fiscal year, Matsushita reversed the losses it posted in 1995 after it sold the MCA Inc. film studio. Matsushita posted a group net profit of $957 million for the year ended March 31, 1997.

However, for the April-June quarter of this fiscal year, flagging sales of its core electronics products caused the company to post the profit drop. About 80% of its sales are in Japan and Asia.

Matsushita also scaled back its net profit target for the first two quarters (April-September) of this fiscal year to $208 million from the $267 million it had predicted in May.

Both Matsushita and Sony use U.S. accounting rules for calculating earnings figures.

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