- Toshiba Corp. swung to a net profit of ¥4.67 billion ($42.8 million) for the latest quarter as revenue increased 3%. But the Japanese electronics conglomerate cut its earnings outlook for the fiscal year by 29%, reflecting the beating its personal-computer business has taken from cutthroat global competition. Toshiba now expects net profit of ¥25 billion ($228.8 million) for the year ending in March, down from its earlier forecast for net of ¥35 billion ($320.4 million). The company maintained its full-year forecast for revenue at ¥5.7 trillion ($51.7 billion).
- NEC Electronics Corp. reported solid gains in net profit for the fiscal first half, thanks to brisk demand for semiconductors used in digital consumer gadgets and mobile phones. The company posted a group net profit of ¥12.1 billion ($110.6 million) for the six-month period ended Sept. 30, more than double its net profit in the year-earlier period of ¥5.2 billion ($47 million). Group revenue slipped 4.9% to ¥348 billion ($3.2 billion) from ¥365.9 billion ($3.3 billion). The company's group revenue declined slightly in the first half as demand shrank for chips used in videogame equipment.
- Sony Corp. posted a 25% drop in net income during the quarter ended Sept. 30 and cut its operating-profit forecast for the full fiscal year by 23%, as profit plunged in the company's videogame business. The lackluster results, released one week before the company unveils a turnaround plan, come despite a slight increase in overall sales to ¥1.8 trillion ($16.5 billion) and signs that Sony's electronics business might be on the mend. Group net income dropped to ¥32.9 billion ($300.2 million), while operating income fell 34% to ¥33.2 billion ($302.9 million) for the fiscal second quarter, compared with the year-earlier period. The operating-income decline came as the videogame business -- Sony's profit engine for the past few years -- experienced a 91% drop in operating income.
- A group of four companies, including NTT Communications Corp. and NEC Corp. will begin developing an Internet Protocol television set that allows users to enjoy both images distributed via the Internet and digital-format telecasting services. The group aims to design products that will enable consumers to watch images distributed through a high-speed broadband connection, without using a personal computer.
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- NTT DoCoMo Inc. and Sony Corp. will soon launch a joint venture to develop, produce and market smart card chips for cellular phones. Sony reportedly will take a 60-70% in the venture, to be capitalized at about ¥20 billion ($183.1 million) with the remaining funds coming from DoCoMo. The venture will develop a chip based on Sony's FeliCa contactless smart card technology for use in cell phones. The chip will initially be installed in select 3G (third-generation) FOMA cell phones and marketed by DoCoMo by the middle of next year.
- Sony Communication Network Corp. plans to start a PHS (personal handy-phone system) service for certain PDAs, offering unlimited data communications for ¥2,000 ($18.3) a month. The service is based on technology developed by DDI Pocket Inc. that assigns addresses to PDAs. The first compatible device will be the next model of Sharp Corp.'s Zaurus, which is due before the year-end. The service, which will be integrated with Sony Communication Network's So-net data network, costs about one-quarter as much as So-net's existing unlimited service.
- The Development Bank of Japan has decided to invest ¥2 billion ($18.3 million) in Elpida Memory Inc., a 50-50 semiconductor-making joint venture between NEC Corp. and Hitachi Ltd. This will be the bank's first investment to be made out of the industrial revival fund established in April to an individual company. With the government-backed bank buying into the company, Elpida Memory is expected to become able to raise funds more easily. Elpida controls the sixth-largest share of the global market and aims to move up to the third place, which it believes it will accomplish by focusing on the manufacturing of high-end products.
- NTT Corp. in conjunction with Motorola Inc. has developed technology to transmit live, high-resolution images to large audiences over the Internet while ensuring quality. The developers say that the transmission will be equal in quality to that of cable TV, as it eliminates the suspensions and delays that can occur when sending a high volume of data via the Internet to many viewers. NTT, which aims to use the technology in its ultrahigh-speed Internet services, plans to encourage groups that set Japan's Internet standards to adopt the technology.
- SkyWave Inc. has developed software that allows a personal computer to manage tens of thousands of IP phones. SkyIP-PBX, as it is known, can control 10 to 100,000 IP phones and offers about 40 IP phone PBX functions, including the ability to set and change telephone numbers on a computer screen. The company foresees sales of ¥800 million ($7.3 million) in the first year.
- LG Electronics Co.'s third-quarter net profit surged 93% year-on-year, due to robust earnings at its LG Philips LCD joint venture, and a rise in sales of mobile phones and plasma-display panels. The company posted third-quarter net profit of 223.8 billion won ($189.9 million), up from 116.1 billion won ($97.6 million) in the year-earlier period. Sales jumped 11.7% to 4.9 trillion won ($4.1 billion) from 4.4 trillion won ($3.7 billion).
- Samsung SDI Co. reported third-quarter net profit surged 34% from a year earlier to 181.4 billion won ($153.5 million) from 135.6 billion won ($113.9 million) on higher sales of plasma display panels and liquid-crystal-display screens for mobile-phone handsets. Sales rose 10% to a record 1.8 trillion won ($1.5 billion) from 1.7 trillion won ($1.4 billion). Its operating profit rose 24% to 242.4 billion won ($230.7 million) from 195.7 billion won ($164.5 million).
- IBM Corp., in conjunction with a government-run information technology institute, plans to set up a research center in Seoul in December. The research center will focus on the development of telematics and imbedded software for wireless communication devices. IBM and the Korean Institute of Information Technology Assessment under the ministry will invest $16 million each in the planned R&D facility over the next four years.
- Korea Thrunet Co. is now attracting attention as a target of acquisition or restructuring in the wake of Hanaro's takeover by AIG and Newbridge. Thrunet, which is saddled with financial troubles, is now up for sale after it filed for court receivership in March. Thrunet has so far retained 1.29 million users, or 11.4% of the domestic broadband market. Last month, it attracted 1,135 new users, despite lingering worries over its operations.
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- Korea's export of CDMA mobile phones to China is slowing down, hurt by sluggish sales and greater competition among foreign and Chinese manufacturers. Korean handset makers reported that China Unicom recently reduced investment in its CDMA service and its marketing activities also declined, hurting the number of new subscribers.
- Hynix Semiconductor Inc. recorded its first net profit in six quarters, helped by higher chip prices, cost cuts and a large gain from investments in affiliates. The company reported third-quarter net profit of 133.9 billion won ($113.3 million), compared with a year-earlier loss of 616.8 billion won ($518.3 million). The average selling price for DRAM chips rose more than 20% from the second quarter, helping to boost Hynix's profitability. The latest profit includes a gain of 124 billion won ($104.2 million) from its stakes in affiliates. Sales jumped 52% to 990.7 billion won ($832.5 million) from 653 billion won ($548.7 million).
- Shareholders of Hanaro Telecom Inc. voted to sell a controlling stake to a consortium led by U.S. insurance company American International Group Inc., rejecting a rival bid by LG Corp. and striking a blow for minority stock owners' rights. Shareholders approved a $500 million offer by AIG and U.S. investment fund Newbridge Capital Ltd. to acquire 39.6% of Hanaro. The decision is a major setback for the telecommunications aspirations of LG Corp. who owns a 18% stake in Hanaro. LG had hoped to combine Hanaro with LG affiliates that provide wireless and fixed-line phone services.
- Telstra Corp. is investigating new markets in southern China after the division reported a 6.3% decline in fiscal first-quarter sales. The decline, to HK$978 million ($126.2 million), came amid a damaging pricing war and continued fallout from the outbreak of SARS earlier this year. Given recent strength in the Australian currency, the decline was more pronounced in Australian-dollar terms, with CSL revenue down 22% to $132.2 million. Possibilities include extended alliances with China Mobile Ltd. or China Unicom Ltd., to tap earnings streams beyond Hong Kong telecommunications.
- China Unicom hoped to complete a multi-billion yuan plan to buy the remaining 10 provincial GSM mobile networks from its parent by the end of the year to boost next year's earnings. The target date is sooner than analysts expected. China Unicom plans to complete the second round of acquisitions from parent China United Telecommunications Corp Group as early as next year.
- Chi Mei Optoelectronics Corp. sold $573.3 million of shares overseas at a small discount, underscoring strong investor interest in the burgeoning flat-screen-display industry. Chi Mei, Taiwan's second-biggest maker of flat-screen-display panels, priced 45 million global depositary receipts at US$12.74 each. One GDR represents 10 common shares. The offering will increase Chi Mei's capital by about 15%.
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- New World Mobility has become Hong Kong's first telecommunications firm to set up a call center in Guangzhou following the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA). The firm set up a joint venture with a mainland partner last month, which was expected to be in operation by the end of this year. The cost of operating a Guangzhou center was half of that in Hong Kong.
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