It has been a rough year for Japanese TV makers, and Panasonic is no exception. The CE firm posted a US$9.7 billion net loss for the year 2011 due to declining sales of flat-panel TVs, while combined sales of TVs, cameras, and recorders dipped 21 percent for the year ending on March 31st 2012.
According to Panasonic's president Fumio Ohtsubo, the company's considerable losses were a result of various external factors, including the global recession, flooding in Thailand, and last year's earthquake in Japan. He also admitted that the management made a mistake by investing excessively in the production of LCD and plasma televisions prior to the economic downturn. Ohtsubo will be handing over the reigns to Mr Kazuhiro Tsuga in June, whose main priority is to turn things around for the company's struggling TV (Viera) division.
Another disturbing trend for the Japanese display maker is marked by declining sales figures of its plasma televisions. Compared to results from the previous financial year, Panasonic sold 41 percent fewer plasma sets between April 2011 and March 2012. The numbers were slightly more optimistic for its smaller-sized LCD TVs, considering a lesser drop of 28 percent in sales.
Panasonic has been at the forefront of plasma TV technology ever since Pioneer's exit from the industry, although competitors like Samsung are closing in on (and superseding) Panasonic at least where global shipment figures are concerned. From here on, it'll be interesting to observe if the Osaka-based firm would continue to push ahead with plasma displays despite languid sales, or re-channel their finances and efforts into large-screen OLED HDTVs which Samsung and LG have already embarked on.
Panasonic expects HDTV sales to slip to 15.5 million units this business year compared to 17.5 million in the previous year.