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Record $5.35 billion loss for Sharp shows danger of a heavy bet on Apple

AP Photo / Koji Sasahara
Checking out the merch, in Tokyo.
By Matt Phillips
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

The numbers: Downright atrocious. Sharp lost ¥545.4 billion ($5.35 billion) during the fiscal year that ended in March. That follows a roughly $4.76 billion loss for the Osaka-based electronics manufacturer in the previous year.

The takeaway: The company’s LCD division, its largest by sales in the 2012 fiscal year, has been a dog lately. It was the biggest loser for the company last quarter, with an operating loss of ¥138.9 billion ($1.37 billion). The company noted that sales of liquid-crystal displays (LCDs) “fell drastically” and said the decline was “due mainly to sluggish demand in Japan and a sales decline in China due to worsening Japan-China relations.” Declining sales have left expensive Japanese plants running far below capacity. (Some reports say Sharp’s flagship Kameyama LCD plant is running below 50%.) The company also announced a management shakeup as part of its morning earnings news.

What’s interesting: Sharp’s woes suggest danger in betting too much on an alliance with Apple. Sharp’s Kameyama plant was largely dedicated to making screens for Apple devices. It has seen sharply dwindling orders, tied to lower-than-expected sales of the iPhone 5. The decline has prompted Sharp to turn to Apple’s arch rival, Samsung Electronics, to beef up orders for the plant. It announced a once-unthinkable alliance with the Korean giant in March.

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