Olympus has reported a 62% drop in profits in the first quarter compared to the same period last year, reports the PMA daily news. In the period April-June 2004, the Japanese company made a net profit of ¥1.06 billion ($9.5 m) compared to ¥403 million ($3.6 m) in the fiscal first quarter of this year. Despite disappointing figures the company still hopes to make a net profit of ¥23 billion ($206 m) in the year to March following its first ever consolidated net loss of ¥11.8 billion ($105 m) in 2004-2005.
Olympus first-quarter net profit falls 62 percent
Olympus Corp., Tokyo, Japan, reported net profit fell 62 percent in the April-June quarter, Reuters reports. Olympus is the world's fourth-best selling digital camera brand after Canon Inc., Sony Corp., and Eastman Kodak Co., but it is considered one of the weaker players in an industry suffering from slowing growth and sharp price falls. Olympus posted a group net profit of ¥403 million (US$3.58 million) for the three months ended June 30, compared with a net profit of ¥1.06 billion in the same period last year. Sales jumped 45 percent to ¥214.2 billion, inflated by a contribution from business incubator ITX Corp., which it converted into a consolidated subsidiary in September last year. But operating profit fell 38 percent to ¥3.89 billion.
Olympus reiterated its forecast for a net profit of ¥23 billion in the year to March, a sharp turnaround from a loss of ¥11.8 billion in 2004-2005, its first ever consolidated net loss.The forecast assumes its imaging division, mainly digital cameras, will record an operating loss of ¥13 billion in the six months to September but then recover to a profit of ¥2 billion in the second half of the financial year to March, Reuters says.
"Our sales and operating profit are pretty much in-line with our original plan," Hideo Yamada, director and chief corporate officer, told a news conference. "We still expect the imaging division to bounce back to a small profit in the second half."
Olympus has blamed its woes in the digital camera market on its failure to launch popular cameras in a timely fashion, Reuters says. As a result, it has been unable to distinguish its products, making them susceptible to discounting. Another problem is its relatively small presence in fast-growing digital single lens reflex models, high-end cameras that yield fatter margins and are less vulnerable to price falls than simple point-and-shoot compact cameras.
Olympus unveiled plans in May to cut 4,000 jobs, or about 30 percent of its imaging division workforce, Reuters says. It has already completed about 80 percent of the job cuts and would finish the rest over the next two months, Yamada said. It will also announce a new strategy for its camera division by September that includes measures to accelerate development, cut production costs and strengthen its global sales network to ensure the business can produce steady earnings growth.
Olympus President Tsuyoshi Kikukawa had said in May that he would unveil the new plan "in the next few months." "We are taking a look at the imaging business from head to toe for ways to make it more efficient. This includes development, production and sales," Yamada told reporters after the press conference.
Olympus and Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. grabbed headlines in January by announcing an alliance to jointly develop technologies and devices for digital SLR cameras, and there has been speculation this tie-up would extend to compacts, Reuters says. Yamada declined to comment on whether it was in talks with Matsushita on forming an alliance in compact cameras but would not rule out the potential for such a deal.
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