Bureau Chief, Helsinki
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Feb 21, 2015

Japan’s Fanuc must do buybacks, capex plan no fix: Loeb

TOKYO (Reuters) – Activist investor Daniel Loeb said Fanuc Corp’s plan to boost investments was not enough to fix its “blatant capital inefficiency”, stepping up calls for the Japanese industrial robot maker to reward shareholders through major buybacks.

Loeb, whose hedge fund Third Point holds an undisclosed stake in Fanuc, told Reuters by email the plan to double investment in a new factory would go little toward addressing the “an embarrassment of riches” on the firm’s balance sheet.

Feb 18, 2015

Sony sees 25-fold profit jump by 2018 through videogames, sensors

TOKYO (Reuters) – Sony Corp aims to boost its operating profit 25-fold within three years by focusing on its more profitable image sensors, videogame and entertainment businesses, its chief executive said on Wednesday.

Outlining his strategy for the loss-making Japanese consumer electronics icon to 2018, CEO Kazuo Hirai said Sony wanted to give its subsidiaries more autonomy in decision making to help drive growth.

Feb 17, 2015

Japan’s Kintetsu Express to buy Singapore’s APL Logistics for $1.2 bln -source

TOKYO/SINGAPORE, Feb 17 (Reuters) – Japanese freight carrier
Kintetsu World Express Inc said it was in final stages
of talks to buy Singapore’s APL Logistics, becoming the latest
firm in Japan to pursue ambitious billion-dollar deals overseas
amid slow domestic growth.

Kintetsu Express said on Tuesday it couldn’t comment on
details of the transaction, which it said was not yet official.
A spokesman said the firm would make an announcement regarding
the deal later in the day.

Feb 16, 2015

Japan’s Fanuc doubles investment plan days after Third Point challenge

TOKYO, Feb 16 (Reuters) – Japanese industrial robot maker
Fanuc Corp on Monday said it would double its planned
investment in a new factory, a week after hedge fund Third Point
called on the firm to use its cash pile to boost shareholder
returns by buying back shares.

The cash-rich company said its decision to spend 100 billion
yen ($844 million) on land and construction was unrelated to
Third Point saying in a quarterly investor letter that Fanuc’s
capital structure “does nothing for shareholder value”.

Feb 15, 2015

CFO Yoshida’s Sony revamp wins over investors, tough decisions loom

TOKYO (Reuters) – Months after Sony Corp bought So-net, the broadband provider’s chief chided CEO Kazuo Hirai for having his “priorities in the wrong order”.

He told Hirai his focus should be on restructuring the struggling electronics conglomerate rather than spending time and effort buying a firm it had previously spun off, said a person familiar with the exchange.

Feb 12, 2015

Japan Display profit jumps on screen sales to Apple, China smartphone makers

TOKYO (Reuters) – Screen supplier Japan Display reported a stronger-than-expected rise in quarterly profit amid higher demand from Apple Inc and Chinese smartphone makers, in stark contrast with peer Sharp Corp’s shrinking panel business.

Japan Display said on Thursday operating profit for October-December climbed 80 percent from a year earlier to 14.7 billion yen ($122 million). Analysts on average had expected a profit of 14 billion yen, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Feb 10, 2015

Canon to buy video surveillance leader Axis for $2.8 billion

TOKYO/STOCKHOLM (Reuters) – Canon Inc (7751.T: Quote, Profile, Research) made a 23.6 billion-Swedish-crown ($2.83 billion) offer for network video surveillance leader Axis AB (AXIS.ST: Quote, Profile, Research) on Tuesday — the biggest purchase ever for the Japanese firm trying to expand beyond a shrinking camera market.

Canon said it had launched a bid to buy all the Swedish company’s shares at 340 crowns apiece, a premium of nearly 50 percent to their closing price of 226.90 on Monday. At 1126 GMT (06:26 a.m. EST), shares of Axis were up 48 percent at 336.50 crowns.

Feb 5, 2015

Sony shares post biggest daily gain in nine years after upgrading outlook

TOKYO (Reuters) – Sony Corp’s (6758.T: Quote, Profile, Research) shares surged on Thursday to post their biggest daily gain in nine years after the consumer electronics and entertainment group lifted its full-year forecast, raising hopes its restructuring efforts were finally bearing fruit.

Backed by cost cuts and stronger sales of sensors and videogames, Sony on Wednesday trimmed its net loss estimate for the year through end-March and forecast a full-year operating profit instead of a loss.

Feb 3, 2015

Japan tech strategy shifts see Sharp skid as Panasonic prospers

TOKYO (Reuters) – In an industry dominated by Apple Inc APPL.O, Samsung Electronics Co (005930.KS: Quote, Profile, Research) and other Asian firms, the differing strategies used by Japan’s technology firms to try to cope have led to losses for some and profits for others.

On Tuesday, Osaka-based Sharp Corp (6753.T: Quote, Profile, Research) warned it will slip into its third annual net loss in four years, saying a supply glut squeezed sales of smartphone displays in China, the business line it had counted on for growth. Best known for the Aquos TV brand, it said it’s now rethinking its businesses.

Feb 3, 2015

Japan’s Sharp sees third loss in four years as smartphone display sales sag

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japanese electronics supplier Sharp Corp warned it will slip into its third annual net loss in four years as fierce pricing competition saps sales of smartphone displays, the business line it had been counting on for growth.

Reporting it reversed into a net loss for the quarter ended December, Sharp said on Tuesday it will rethink strategy as it expects to book a net loss of 30 billion yen ($256 million) this fiscal year, compared with the 30 billion net profit it previously forecast. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters had expected a full-year net profit of 22.4 billion yen.