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Panasonic returns to profit after period of heavy losses

Panasonic has returned to profit after deep losses for the past two fiscal years, as a weak yen and restructuring efforts helped a gradual recovery.

The Japan-based maker of the Lumix camera and Evolta batteries forecast a 16% increase in gains for the coming year.

Like other Japanese electronics companies, Panasonic has been struggling amid intense competition from Apple and South Korea's Samsung. The prices of gadgets have also been falling, adding to Panasonic's woes.

It reported 120.4bn yen (£698m) in profit for the fiscal year through to March 2014, a reversal from a 754.3bn yen (£4.3bn) loss the previous fiscal year.

For the fiscal year through to March 2015, it is projecting a net profit of 140bn yen (£812m).

It had lost 772bn yen (£4.5bn) in the fiscal year through March 2012, one of the biggest losses ever for a Japanese company.

Panasonic stayed in the red for the January-March quarter, racking up a 122.6bn yen (£711m) of losses, but managed to get into the black for the full year. Quarterly sales jumped 10%.

Sales for the fiscal year ended March 2014 gained 6% to 7.737trn yen (£45bn), as sales improved in a variety of sectors, including appliances, auto parts and ecological products such as lighting.

A weak yen is a boon for Japanese exporters by boosting the value of overseas earnings.

The bad news is that the positive impact from a favourable exchange rate is not likely to keep up momentum in coming months.

Panasonic is expecting sales to stay flat for the fiscal year through March 2015.

The Japanese electronics brand that has been a long-term rival to Sony has also suffered because it lost out in the smartphone sector.

But it has been working on ambitions to grow its relatively newer auto and housing businesses.

Belfast Telegraph