March 31, 2023

Panasonic Forecasts Loss for Year

TOKYO (AP) — Panasonic Corp.’s losses ballooned to 698 billion yen ($8.7 billion) for the fiscal second quarter as sales plunged in flat-panel TVs, laptops and other gadgets, and restructuring costs to turn itself around were proving bigger than initially expected.

The red ink, announced Wednesday, proved far worse than the 105.8 billion yen loss racked up for the July-September period last year.

The Osaka-based maker of Viera TVs and Lumix digital cameras revised its full year forecast from an earlier projection for a 50 billion yen ($625 million) profit to a massive annual loss of 765 billion yen ($9.6 billion).

Panasonic sank into a record loss of 772.2 billion yen ($9.6 billion) for the fiscal year through March 2012 — among the biggest in Japan’s manufacturing history.

Its problems are emblematic of the overall Japanese electronics industry. Panasonic’s longtime rival Sony Corp. racked up a record annual loss of 457 billion yen ($5.7 billion) in its fourth straight year of red ink. Sony reports fiscal results on Thursday.

Panasonic’s quarterly sales sank 12 percent to 1.82 trillion yen ($22.8 billion) as a global slowdown, the falling price of electronics products and competition from cheaper Asian makers chipped away at sales. Sales in Japan dipped 11 percent, while overseas sales shrank 14 percent.

Panasonic has been trying to expand operations that cater to other businesses, instead of consumers, by beefing up its solar panel and battery divisions, including auto batteries.

But such shifts are expected to take some time, and those sectors have also been slammed by price declines.

Panasonic lowered its sales forecast for the full year through March 2013, to 7.3 trillion yen ($91.3 billion), down from an earlier 8.1 trillion yen ($101 billion). Even the more pessimistic number falls short of last year’s sales at 7.85 trillion yen.

The company also said it expects to book restructuring expenses of 440 billion yen ($5.5 billion) for the year, bigger than the originally estimated 41 billion yen ($513 million).

Panasonic and other Japanese makers have struggled despite the popularity of smartphones and other mobile devices as the market, including Japan, has been dominated by Apple Inc. of the U.S. and South Korea’s Samsung Electronics Co.

Also Wednesday, Panasonic said it will boost the efficiency of its operations by merging three group companies focusing on mobile phones and network systems.

During the first fiscal half, Panasonic’s sales grew in appliances and automotive systems, but declined in TVs, digital cameras, Blu-ray recorders, mobile phones, printers and semiconductors, according to the company.


Article source:

After Huge Gains in Gold, Hedge Funds Sell

For the better part of the last two years, some of the world’s biggest hedge funds have been piling into gold, betting the precious metal would provide an effective hedge against inflation or be a safer place to park cash as equity markets around the world stumbled.

But to the surprise of many investors, when equity markets across the globe tumbled once again on Thursday, gold moved sharply lower as well.

Gold futures for September delivery fell $66.30, or 3.7 percent, to $1,739.20 an ounce in New York. It was quite a turnabout for the metal, which has been soaring in recent months amid the turbulent stock markets.

Hedge funds, which have been ratcheting down their positions in gold futures since early August, were quickly named as the culprits in the latest sell-off.

Some traders said that hedge funds were beginning to unwind, or close out, what has been a very popular and profitable trade for the last 18 months as they bet the dollar would fall and that gold would rise. In the last month alone, the euro has fallen nearly 4 percent against the dollar amid worries about the European debt crisis.

The sell-off in gold was part of a broader move in the markets that had investors shifting away from perceived riskier assets, like commodities, and into the dollar in reaction to the Federal Reserve’s announcement on Wednesday of its new stimulus program.

In addition, the Fed said that there were “significant downside risks” to the United States economy, which sent several commodities, including crude oil and copper, tumbling on Thursday on fears of a global slowdown in demand.

Other market participants said hedge funds were selling their positions in gold to raise cash to meet increased capital demands for their borrowings from Wall Street banks as the assets they have put up as collateral, like other commodities or stocks, have declined sharply in value.

“On the one hand you have a lot of strength in the U.S. dollar, historically gold and the dollar do trade inversely,” said Ryan Detrick, senior technical strategist at Schaeffer’s Investment Research. “The hedge funds are long gold and they need to raise cash and it looks like they are definitely selling some gold.”

Others say some hedge funds may be selling to meet redemption requests from investors who have been spooked by the recent market volatility and fear a repeat of the problems of late 2008.

“A lot of investors are waking up to the realization that something is off. We’ve seen Goldman Sachs close its flagship fund, legendary hedge funds are down sharply, and I suspect we’re going to see significant withdrawals from some hedge funds this year,” said Michael A. Gayed, the chief investment strategist of the investment advisory firm Pension Partners.

“The tendency for individual hedge funds or anybody is to sell winners before they sell losers. What’s been one of the few winners this year? It’s been gold,” Mr. Gayed added.

Still, some are not yet ready to call the end of the gold rush. Even with the pullback, gold remains one of the most profitable investments this year with a gain of 22 percent.

Some strategists have even predicted that gold will reach a record of above $2,300, which it hit during the early 1980s when adjusted for inflation and translated into current dollars. Likewise, the world’s largest exchange-traded gold fund, the SPDR Gold Shares, fell 2.6 percent on Thursday, but remains up 22 percent for the year.

Gold, whether through futures contracts or via exchange-traded funds, has been a popular investment among some of the world’s largest hedge funds. One of the best known “gold bugs” is John A. Paulson, whose firm, Paulson Company, is the biggest shareholder in the SPDR Gold Shares ETF. But many other hedge funds have embraced the metal as well.

After peaking in early August, hedge funds have been reducing their exposure in the gold futures market, according to Mary Ann Bartels, the head of United States technical analysis for Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

“A lot of speculators were very long in July,” Ms. Bartels said. “But they’ve been taking it down ever since.”

Article source: