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Panasonic executive: panel displays to return to profit in fourth quarter

People visit Panasonic Corp's booth at CEATEC JAPAN 2012 electronics show in Chiba, east of Tokyo, October 2, 2012. REUTERS/Yuriko Nakao
People visit Panasonic Corp's booth at CEATEC JAPAN 2012 electronics show in Chiba, east of Tokyo, October 2, 2012. REUTERS/Yuriko Nakao

IBARAKI, Japan (Reuters) - Panasonic Corp's panel display business should return to profit in the three months to March 31, as it decouples from Japan's struggling TV industry with stronger sales of LCD panels to makers of tablets and PCs, the head of the division said in an interview on Thursday.

"We are now making displays for more than 10 models of tablets and PCs," Yoshio Ito said at a former factory in the town of Ibaraki in Osaka, western Japan, once the hub of the company's TV production and which now serves as his headquarters and a research and development center.

Sales of small LCD panels will likely make up around 60 percent of the unit's sales in the October-March second half of the business year compared with 30 percent in the first six months, he said.

As Panasonic draws back from TVs it is looking to boost sales of smaller LCD panels used in tablet computers and mobile phones, a strategy also being pursued by local rival Sharp Corp.

In the three months to September 30, the company's audiovisual division posted a loss of 2.1 billion yen ($26 million), with sales down 7 percent from a year earlier. For the full year it cut its operating profit forecast for the unit to 36 billion yen from 121 billion yen.

Panasonic last month warned it will post a net loss of close to $10 billion in the year ending next March 31 as it writes off tax deferred assets and goodwill related to its mobile phones solar panels and small lithium batteries.

(Reporting by Tim Kelly and Reiji Murai; Editing by Michael Watson)

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