Japanese electronics firms hit trouble

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The Independent Online
TOKYO (AP) - Two leading Japanese electronics companies predicted sharply worse financial results yesterday, reflecting the worldwide consumer downturn and the strength of the yen.

JVC, a leading maker of video cassette recorders, predicted a Y26bn ( pounds 105m) loss for the current financial year and said it would not pay a divided. The company said it planned to trim the workforce at its video plants by 700 over the coming year.

Matsushita Electric, one of the world's largest consumer electronics companies, announced its overall net profits for the April- June quarter had plunged 76 per cent from a year earlier to Y9bn.

Matsushita said 'severe external conditions, most notably decreased demand for video and audio equipment', pushed overall sales during the quarter down 3 per cent from a year earlier to Y1,710bn. It is lowering its parent company's earnings forecast for the six months to September from Y46bn to Y29bn.

The Japanese government yesterday announced a two-year freeze on further sales of its shares in Nippon Telegraph and Telephone, the latest in a series of hasty measures adopted to prop up the stock market.

The announcement was made three days before the governing Liberal Democratic Party is scheduled to announce a fiscal stimulus package.

The Finance Ministry holds nearly 66 per cent of NTT, or more than 10 million shares. It had planned to sell 500,000 shares in the current fiscal year.

Shares in NTT, Japan's former telecommunications monopoly, have plunged from a peak of Y3.18m to Y615,000.