Matsushita Reports Rise in Group Profits

<i> Associated Press</i>

Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., owner of the Panasonic and National brands and of MCA Inc., said its group profits climbed in the first quarter of its fiscal year, despite the steep rise in the Japanese yen.

Matsushita’s sales at home fell 3% to $7.95 billion, hurt by the persistent slump in the Japanese economy, but those abroad increased 9% to $8.63 billion.

Although sales in Matsushita group’s entertainment business declined 2% to $1.29 billion, the drop was largely due to the strong yen.

Cost-cutting efforts and better sales in U.S. and Asian markets helped the Japanese company earn $379 million in pretax profit for the three months ended June 30, up 12% from a year earlier, a company spokesman said.


The film “Schindler’s List,” which swept this year’s Academy Awards with seven Oscars, provided steady profits to Matsushita’s entertainment business through its MCA Inc. unit.

MCA, which accounts for about 70% of the entertainment group’s sales, posted a 16% increase in sales, to $970 million, from January to March, and its earnings for the period were transferred to Matsushita’s first-quarter group earnings, the spokesman said.

“A negative factor was the yen’s appreciation, while positive factors were streamlining and sales increases overseas,” he said.

The dollar stood at an average of 107 yen in the first quarter, contrasted with an average of 121 yen a year earlier.