Sharp Corp. said Monday it had returned to the black for the first time in three years in the business year ended March, with a net income of 11.6 billion yen ( 114 million U.S. dollars), more than double its own forecast.
The Osaka-based company said that it also expects its net profit to triple in the coming year, owing to increased consumer and corporate demand for the firm's smartphones, LCD displays, solar panels and batteries.
The firm reported that sales during the recording year had increased by 18 percent to 2.93 trillion yen, compared to the record group net loss of 545.35 billion yen the firm posted the year before and operating losses of more than 146 billion yen.
The once-ailing consumer electronics maker said that major restructuring efforts had helped to turn the company around, including slashing personnel and selling stakes in its LCD business, as well as the yen's comparative weakness helping the company to boost its overseas earnings.
"We made a relatively good start in the first year of our medium-term business plan," Sharp President Kozo Takahashi told a press conference in Tokyo Monday.
"We'd like to build a company structure that is capable of swiftly coping with changes in market conditions and the environment," Takahashi said, adding that the company still faces some challenges including its solar battery operation, which is likely to become unprofitable this business year.
In addition, the company's solar cell business is expected to shrink 33.9 percent this fiscal year, however, dragging the segment to a 5 billion yen operating loss, the company said.
Sales of Sharp's solar batteries rocketed 68.9 percent in fiscal 2013, owing to robust domestic demand as well as from a megasolar power plant development project in the United States, the firm said.
Sales of LCDs rose 17.0 percent, due to strong demand from the smartphone sector, it also said and noted that while sales of its LCD TVs in the U.S. and Europe had been sluggish, demand was still high in Japan, China and emerging markets.
Sharp said it now expects its group net profit to more than double to 30 billion yen for the current business year through next March, but said its operating profit will likely dip by around 8 percent to 100 billion yen on consolidated sales of an expected 3 trillion yen.
The yen's depreciation has pushed up the firm's costs for imported components and as such, its operating and net profit outlooks through the year ending in March 2016, will fall short by around 10 billion yen, compared to its original medium-term business plan forecast, it said.
The company missed its target to increase the share of small- screen output at its Kameyama 2 factory to 39 percent in the January-March quarter, achieving only 28 percent, but Takahashi maintained the company was still on track to reach the 50 percent target within the six months to September 30.
"Looking at orders, we should be at 35 percent for May and so I think we can make it to 50 percent for the first half," Takahashi said.
"We will cope with falling smartphone panel prices by cutting costs and improving automation technology," added Takahashi. Enditem