Japan’s major firms suffer huge losses

Tokyo, May 13:

Hitachi’s results are the biggest ever in Japan’s manufacturing sector and the second largest in the country’s corporate history after Nippon Telegraph and Telephone’s JPY834.6 billion loss in 2002. Japan’s third-biggest carmaker, Nissan, suffered its first loss last year since it was rescued from bankruptcy nearly a decade ago as the country’s main exporters continued to take a battering from the global recession.

Hitachi confirmed it had suffered the worst loss ever.

Nissan reported an operating loss of JPY137.9 billion ($1.4bn) after a JPY790.8 billion profit last year. The carmaker has been hit hard by the slowdown in global sales, with a programme of devastating job cuts. It has announced 20,000 job cuts this year, including 1,200 — almost one in four — at its Sunderland plant in northern England.

Carlos Ghosn, Nissan’s chief executive, warned of more volatility in the global car market. Nissan sold 3.4 million vehicles worldwide during the year, down 9.5 per cent from the previous year, as sales dropped in the US, Japan and Europe.

Hitachi, which makes consumer electronics and industrial equipment, said net losses had mounted to JPY787.3 billion in the year through to 31 March from a JPY58.1 billion loss a year earlier.

Hitachi said it expected losses to come to JPY270 billion this year amid a sharp drop in demand for electronic gadgets, chips and cars incorporating its products. In January it responded to the fall in sales by announcing plans to shed 7,000 jobs, or almost 2 per cent of its global workforce.

“The global economy is not expected to see a fully fledged recovery until 2010 at the earliest,” the company said. Sony is expected to announce its first net loss for 14 years tomorrow, in a blow to chief executive Sir Howard Stringer’s efforts to revive the company’s fortunes. The firm is expected to record a net loss of JPY150 billion compared with a JPY369.4 billion profit a year earlier after suffering a projected 13 per cent drop in annual sales.