Toshiba plans to double operating profit by 2014-15

TOKYO Thu May 17, 2012 6:16am EDT

An advertisement for Toshiba Corp is pictured at an electronic store in Tokyo May 8, 2012. REUTERS/Yuriko Nakao

An advertisement for Toshiba Corp is pictured at an electronic store in Tokyo May 8, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Yuriko Nakao

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TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan's Toshiba Corp said on Thursday it aims to more than double its annual operating profit in three years to $5.6 billion, by expanding its social infrastructure business and boosting sales of electronics devices.

The electronics conglomerate, whose television sales have been sliding along with those of rivals Sony Corp, Panasonic Corp and Sharp Corp, has been buoyed by strong sales of Apple Inc's iPhones, which use Toshiba's NAND flash chips.

The world's No.2 maker of NAND flash chips, behind Samsung Electronics, Toshiba forecast NAND chip sales of 700 billion yen in the 2015/16 business year.

Shares of Toshiba Corp jumped 5.6 percent to 322 yen after the release of its mid-term business plan, outpacing a 0.9 percent rise in the Nikkei, and partly retracing a steep fall from levels above 380 yen in recent weeks.

Toshiba said its annual operating profit was likely to reach 450 billion yen ($5.6 billion) by the year ending March 2015, up from 206.7 billion yen for the year ended March 2012.

The company said earlier on Thursday that it has halted domestic production of LCD televisions in the face of price falls, following a similar decision by Hitachi Corp.

"We have shut down our domestic TV production. We are looking at all areas (of the TV business), number of models, numbers of panels, in order to re-strengthen this division," Toshiba president and CEO Norio Sasaki told reporters.

He added that the firm was shifting its focus to emerging economies and growing markets after domestic demand for TVs fell more than expected in the previous year.

Toshiba said sales for its digital products division, home to its loss-making LCD TVs, would reach 200 billion yen in business year 2015/16.

However, it pushed back its 1 trillion yen sales target for the nuclear power business for two years to 2017/18, following the Fukushima radiation disaster and stricter atomic regulations in the United States.

The firm also said it has been approached by several buyers interested in its majority stake in U.S. nuclear power company Westinghouse Electric.

Toshiba said in its business plan that capital spending for the three years to March 2015 would be about 1.4 trillion yen, and it planned to spend around 1.1 trillion yen on research and development during the same period.

Sasaki also said that he wants to strengthen alliances with Toshiba's partners to expand its "smart community business", which helps energy users efficiently manage their power usage.

Last year, Toshiba bought Swiss-based Landis+Gyr in a deal valued at $2.3 billion in an effort to move into the promising overseas smart grid market, designed to accommodate a range of power generation options and give real-time information on energy use.

Toshiba last week forecast an annual operating profit of 300 billion yen ($3.75 billion) for the business year ending March 2013, buoyed by strong sales of its flash NAND memory chips. ($1 = 80.3550 Japanese yen)

(Reporting by Mari Saito, writing by Yoko Kubota; Editing by Richard Pullin)

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