Most Asian Stocks Drop on Profit Concern as Nikon Slides

Most Asian shares dropped on earnings concern after Nikon Corp. and News Corp. cut forecasts and Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average fell from a four-year high.

Nikon plunged the most since 1985 as the Japanese camera maker reduced its profit forecast on slowing demand in Europe. Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. lost 3.2 percent in Sydney after cutting its earnings outlook on declining ratings for shows such as “American Idol” and “X Factor.” Kubota Corp. lost 3.8 percent, among the biggest drops on the Nikkei 225, as net income at the Japanese tractor maker missed analysts’ estimates. National Australia Bank gained 1.9 percent as the lender reported a rise in first-quarter profit.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index slid 0.3 percent to 132.84 as of 8:10 p.m. in Tokyo, with about five shares falling for every four that rose. Japan’s Nikkei 225 lost 0.9 percent, retreating from yesterday’s highest closing level September 2008, the month that Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. collapsed.

“We’re in for a pullback in the near term,” said Hans Goetti, Singapore-based chief investment officer for Asia at Finaport Investment Intelligence, which manages the equivalent of $1.5 billion. He spoke in a Bloomberg Television interview. “The market is overbought and positive sentiment is off the charts, which is a contrarian indicator.”

The benchmark regional equities gauge gained 8.9 percent in the three months through yesterday, led by Japanese shares as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s campaign for aggressive monetary policy easing weakened the yen, boosting the earnings outlook for exporters.

Australian Jobs

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index rose 0.3 percent after the nation’s employers boosted payrolls more than economists forecast in January. The number of people employed rose by 10,400 from December, when it fell a revised 3,800, a smaller decrease than previously reported, the statistics bureau said in Sydney today.

The BSE India Sensitive Index slid 0.3 percent after the government forecast the weakest economic growth in a decade. Gross domestic product will rise 5 percent in the 12 months through March 2013, below last year’s 6.2 percent and the least since 4 percent in 2002-2003, the statistics bureau reported today.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index slid 0.3 percent, while the Shanghai Composite Index sank 0.7 percent and Singapore’s Straits Times Index lost 0.5 percent. South Korea’s Kospi Index sank 0.2 percent.

Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index gained 0.3 percent today. The gauge rose 0.1 percent yesterday as better-than-estimated earnings overshadowed concern over Europe’s debt crisis before a gathering of euro-area leaders.

Sony’s Loss

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index, the benchmark Asian equities gauge, traded at 14.8 times average estimated earnings compared with 13.7 for the S&P 500 and 12.2 for the Stoxx Europe 600 Index, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Sony Corp., reporting results after the close of markets in Tokyo, unexpectedly posted an eighth consecutive quarterly loss on waning demand for TVs and consumer preferences for Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co. devices. The shares gained 2.6 percent to 1,519 yen before the announcement.

Nikon tumbled 19 percent to 2,139 yen. Net income will probably be 38 billion yen ($407 million) in the year ending March, compared with a previous forecast of 60 billion yen, the Tokyo-based company said yesterday in a statement. Prices of entry-level single-lens reflex cameras have tumbled because of slowing demand and rising competition, it said.

TV Ratings

News Corp. lost 3.2 percent to A$26.60, the biggest decline since June. A slump in TV ratings puts a damper on Murdoch’s plans to split his company in two, cleaving the declining publishing division from his more profitable entertainment businesses.

Kubota sank 3.8 percent to 1,071 yen. The maker of farm equipment raised its full-year operating profit forecast 1.9 percent to 107 billion yen, less than the 112.1 billion average estimate by 19 analysts in a Bloomberg survey.

NAB gained 1.9 percent to A$28.63. The increase in first-quarter profit comes as Chief Executive Officer Cameron Clyne is trying to revive earnings growth after provisions at the bank’s U.K. unit led last fiscal year to the first decline in annual profit since 2009.

Mazda Motor Corp. surged 12 percent to 317 yen after the carmaker raised its projected operating profit by 80 percent, citing a weaker yen.

Of the 255 firms on the MSCI Asia Pacific index that have reported earnings so far this quarter and for which Bloomberg has estimates, 53 percent have exceeded profit expectations. Some 53 percent have missed sales projections, the data compiled by Bloomberg show.

Tom DeMark, the creator of indicators to show turning points in securities, said the Shanghai Composite Index will retreat about 8 percent before resuming gains as a surge in Chinese stocks has exhausted buyers. The gauge of domestic Chinese equities climbed 24 percent through yesterday from an almost four-year low in December.

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