Healthy sales of refrigerators, washing machines and other whitegoods in Japan and the rest of Asia helped to push Panasonic‘s group net profit up 38% year over year to US$914 million for the April-September half. Meanwhile, strong sales of surveillance cameras and in-flight entertainment systems helped operating profit to grow 13% to 200.4 billion yen, topping 200 billion yen for the first time in seven years.

President Kazuhiro Tsuga (pictured) told the media that the company’s business structure has improved and the results indicated confidence in the reforms implemented so far.

Panasonic booked net losses of more than 750 billion yen in fiscal 2011 and fiscal 2012. Since taking over as president, Tsuga has pulled the company out of unprofitable businesses and reworked its portfolio. The shift to a more robust earnings structure lifted the operating profit margin to 5.3%, reaching the goal of at least 5%.



However, the six large-scale business divisions — including air conditioners, car navigation and entertainment systems and rechargeable batteries — that Panasonic has been trying to restructure this year have not fared well. Air conditioner inventories have built up in China, while sales of rechargeable batteries for laptop computers are sluggish.

Sales for the half only moved up 1% to 3.76 trillion yen, leaving the company with much ground to cover to reach the 8 trillion yen target for fiscal 2015. The yen’s weakness provided a boost of almost 190 billion yen, with sales down 3-4% on a local-currency basis. Tsuga said exchange gains will nearly disappear later, suggesting that sales in emerging markets could decline as their currencies weaken.