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Sharp to lose contract workers

JAPANESE electronics maker Sharp said yesterday that it would cut 1,500 contract workers in Japan by the end of March, and is headed for a US$1-billion annual loss, its first in nearly 60 years.

Sharp said costs to restructure its flat-panel display business, together with losses in its stock holdings and regulatory fines would lead to a net loss of 100 billion yen (US$1.1 billion) in the current fiscal year to the end of March.

The company, which previously forecast a 60-billion-yen net profit, hasn't had a net loss since 1950.

Sharp said it will cut jobs by not extending the contracts of some of its temporary workers, and the cuts will not affect the company's full-time global work force, which currently numbers about 55,900.

It plans to slash expenses by 200 billion yen over the next two years, including cutting the salaries of executives and managers.

The company will also reorganize its LCD factories and reassign some workers.

The maker of the Aquos line of liquid crystal display televisions said its net loss in the October-December quarter alone was 65.83 billion yen, down from a 29.60-billion-yen profit a year earlier. Revenues fell to 735.15 billion yen from 921.20 billion yen.

Holiday boost

The quarter has historically been a strong one for electronics makers due to the boost from holiday sales, but Sharp said it was hit hardest in its core audiovisual and communications division, which makes LCD TVs and mobile phones.

The unit, which accounts for nearly half of Sharp's revenues, booked a 22.35-billion-yen loss for the quarter.

The company increased the overall number of LCD TVs it sold from a year earlier, but big price falls lowered its margin on each set sold. For the full fiscal year through March, Sharp expects to sell 10 million LCD TVs, 21 percent more than last year, but still forecasts that LCD TV revenues will fall 10 percent.

Sharp, Japan's largest maker of mobile phones, said phone sales have fallen. Foreign exchange also hurt the company, as the strong yen cut profits on products sold abroad accounting for a loss of 74.1 billion yen in revenue.


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