Panasonic Slides Most in 3 Years on Lower Profit Outlook

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Panasonic Corp. fell the most in almost three-and-a-half years after forecasting an 8.5 percent drop in profit next fiscal year as it boosts spending on new products outside of its consumer electronics business.

The shares declined 12 percent to 908 yen at the close in Tokyo on Friday, the biggest drop since November 2012. The stock is down 27 percent this year, while the Nikkei 225 index is 15 percent lower. A day before, the Osaka-based company said operating income will probably decline to 375 billion yen ($3.3 billion) in the period ending March 2017.

“The stock market is still struggling to identify potential growth drivers,” Ryosuke Katsura, an analyst at SMBC Nikko Securities Inc., wrote in a report. “The focus is on how it intends to generate growth, and whether it can distinguish itself as a diversified, rather than specialist, maker.”

President Kazuhiro Tsuga is steering Panasonic away from consumer electronics to focus on housing, car information systems and the batteries it makes with Tesla Motors Inc. He agreed to pay 186.6 billion yen for U.S.-based maker of refrigeration systems Hussmann to bolster its housing operations. That was part of a push to spend 1 trillion yen to boost sales.

“We are looking at many possible areas of growth and opportunities for acquisitions,” Tsuga said at Thursday’s briefing. “We will continue to adjust the targets as we implement the growth strategy.”

Tsuga also said the company may miss its target of 10 trillion yen in sales by fiscal 2018, after lowering the outlook for the current year because of a cooling Chinese economy. Operating profit will rebound to 500 billion yen in three years, the company said.

(Updates shares in first paragraph.)
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