Sony, Sharp highlight Japan electronics woes

A profit warning from Sony and a massive loss forecast from Sharp have highlighted the depth of the problems facing Japan's consumer electronics industry, beset by an expensive yen and evaporating competitiveness in televisions.

Sony, which is coming off a Y457bn ($5.8bn) net loss for fiscal 2011, on Thursday said that a promised rebound this year would be smaller than it initially expected.

Sharp, meanwhile, widened its full-year net loss forecast more than eightfold, to Y250bn from the Y30bn it predicted in May, and said that it planned to eliminate 5,000 jobs -- its first workforce reduction since 1950.

Japanese tech groups such as Sony and Sharp had invested heavily in production facilities for liquid crystal TV displays, only to find themselves unable to compete as prices for flatscreen sets plunged. The yen's 50 per cent rise against the currencies of Japan's trading partners since mid-2008 has made them that much more vulnerable to cheaper Taiwanese and South Korean producers.

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