By Chris Nicholls

TOKYO: Hitachi has announced a 15 billion Yen (US$132 million) loss in its digital media and consumer products division, taking total losses for the division to 65.8 billion Yen, blaming lower than expected flat panel sales and prices.

The sales drops came despite the company posting a nine per cent increase in total revenues to US$23.7 billion and operating income of US$683 million. It also posted a staggering 993 per cent net increase in net income, with a year-on-year rise from 1.2 billion Yen (approximately US$11 million) in Q3 2006 to 12.5 billion Yen (US$110 million) this year. 

The losses compounded Hitachi’s digital media and consumer product woes, taking total losses for the nine months to December 31 2007 to US$578 million. Despite the higher losses, Hitachi claimed revenues had increased 11 per cent for the quarter to US$3.6 billion.

In a press conference in Japan yesterday, a Hitachi spokesperson said some of the losses came from the sub prime crisis and subsequent threat of recession in the US, as people were choosing to hold onto their televisions longer and restrict themselves to smaller sizes, such as 37- and 42-inches, when they purchased new models.

Results for the nine months to December 31 showed the digital media and consumer products division posted only a one per cent gain in revenue, to US$9.9 billion.

Other divisions recorded generally positive results.

The report is the first after the company closed its Australian arm, but did not mention the effect of the closure on results. For the nine months to December 31, Hitachi as a group posted a 20 per cent gain year-on-year for the Asia region to US$13 billion, while North America and Europe both posted 10 per cent gains. An unspecified ‘Other areas’ segment saw revenues rise by only four per cent to US$2.9 billion.