Panasonic Plans 8,000 Job Cuts Amid Second Straight Loss

Panasonic Corp. (6752) plans to cut 8,000 jobs in the second half of this fiscal year as the Japanese TV maker restructures amid falling demand and a rising yen.

The company, which eliminated 8,871 jobs in the six months ended Sept. 30, is planning further cuts by March 31 to speed up the reforms, Atsushi Hinoki, a Tokyo-based spokesman, said by phone. The expense for the job cuts is already included in the company’s forecast for an annual loss of 765 billion yen ($9.6 billion), he said.

Panasonic shares this month plunged to the lowest in at least 38 years and Moody’s Investors Service said it will review its debt for a potential downgrade after Japan’s third-biggest employer predicted a loss this fiscal year. The Osaka-based company eliminated almost 39,000 jobs in the past year, or about 11 percent of its staff, as Japanese electronics makers struggle amid competition with Samsung (005930) Electronics Co.

“They have no choice but to cut more jobs, given the enormous loss,” said Yoshihiro Okumura, a general manager at Chiba-Gin Asset Management Co. “Further job cuts were expected. What is more important going forward is to realign its businesses and show investors a clear picture for revival.”

Reuters reported the job cuts earlier.

Panasonic’s American depositary receipts fell 4.3 percent to $4.63 at the close in in New York.

Apple, Samsung

The loss forecast, projected last month, was 30 times bigger than analysts estimated and prompted the Osaka-based company to skip a dividend for the first time since 1950 because of an “urgent need” to improve its financial position. It would be the company’s second straight loss.

“It’s positive that the company is promoting reform at a faster pace than the market expected,” said Kazuharu Miura, an analyst at SMBC Nikko Securities Inc. in Tokyo.

Panasonic and smaller Sharp Corp. are among Japanese consumer-electronics makers failing to come up with hit products to challenge Samsung and Apple Inc. (AAPL) Sony Corp. (6758) and Panasonic are valued at near three-decade lows as investors remain unconvinced that Japan’s TV makers can rebound from slumping demand, falling prices and mounting losses.

The bulk of Panasonic’s projected loss for the year ending in March will come from 440 billion yen of restructuring expenses, more than 10 times greater than what the company projected earlier. That includes a writedown of goodwill on businesses such as solar, lithium-ion batteries and mobile phones, the company said.

“The situation is worse than we had expected earlier, and we have a severe outlook for the second half,” Chief Financial Officer Hideaki Kawai said at an Oct. 31 briefing. Panasonic has no plan to cut jobs in significant numbers, he said then.

Credit Ratings

With 321,896 workers on its payroll as of Sept. 30, Panasonic trails Toyota Motor Corp. (7203)’s 328,762 workers as of June 30 and Hitachi Ltd. (6501)’s 327,325 as of Sept. 30, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

On Nov. 1, Moody’s placed Panasonic’s Baa1-rated long-term senior unsecured bond and issuer ratings, as well as its shelf registration, on review for downgrade. Japan Rating and Investment Information Inc. said it placed Panasonic on monitoring and may downgrade its current A+ rating by more than one level.

The maker of Viera TVs and Lumix cameras promoted Kazuhiro Tsuga to president in June after the 56-year-old executive led a restructuring of the unprofitable TV business.

Losses from TVs at Panasonic totaled 349 billion yen in the past four fiscal years, according to an estimate by Yuji Fujimori, an analyst at Barclays Plc in Tokyo. Sony’s TV business is forecast to lose money for a ninth straight year.

TV Demand

Global TV demand is expected to remain little changed in 2013 after shipments of all TV types declined more than 4 percent this year, researcher DisplaySearch said last month. Japan’s deliveries plunged 77 percent in the second quarter, according to the researcher.

Anti-Japan sentiment in China may lead to a 100 billion-yen decline in sales and a 30 billion-yen decline in operating profit for the current fiscal year, Kawai said last month.

Protests disrupted operations in September at Panasonic’s three factories in China, where the company generated about 14 percent of its sales in the first quarter.

A dispute over islands in the East China Sea claimed by both countries sparked the anti-Japan protests, halting local output by Japanese manufacturers and reducing demand for their products in the world’s second-largest economy.

To contact the reporters on this story: Mariko Yasu in Tokyo at myasu@bloomberg.net; Shunichi Ozasa in Tokyo at sozasa@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Tighe at mtighe4@bloomberg.net

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