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Panasonic Q3 profit jumps

Panasonic Corp said its quarterly profit jumped more than threefold to the highest level in five quarters as it cut costs and enjoyed robust TV sales, and the Japanese electronics maker lifted its outlook to beat market expectations.

The maker of Lumix digital cameras and Viera TVs benefited from growing demand for LCD televisions as consumers continued to trade in bulky box TVs for flat-screen models, prompted in part by government incentive programs.

Panasonic is the world's fourth-largest flat TV maker behind Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, LG Electronics Inc and Sony Corp.

The company raised its operating profit forecast for the year to March to ¥150 billion (1.06 billion) from ¥120 billion.

The new outlook compares with a ¥72.87 billion profit a year earlier and is just above a consensus for a ¥146.7 billion profit in a poll of 16 analysts by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

The revised target still represents less than a third of the ¥519.48 billion profit it posted two years ago, ahead of the global downturn.

Panasonic in December bought a majority stake in Sanyo Electric Co Ltd, the world's largest rechargeable battery maker, in a move to establish a new growth driver.

With Sanyo offering solar cells as well as rechargeable batteries, and Panasonic making fuel cells, the new Panasonic group is well positioned to take advantage of growing demand for renewable energy-related products for cars, homes and offices.

Operating profit totaled ¥101 billion in October-December, up from a ¥26.4 billion profit a year earlier and compared with a market consensus of a ¥92.4 billion profit.

Quarterly sales totaled ¥1.89 trillion, little changed from the previous year's ¥1.88 trillion.

Shares in Panasonic closed down 3.1% at ¥1,392 ahead of the results, underperforming the Tokyo stock market's electrical machinery index, which fell 2.2%.

Over the past three months, Panasonic shares have gained 13.2%, outperforming a 7% rise in the subindex. (Reuters)