UPDATE 1-Sharp to return to profit in third quarter, sources

Thu Jan 31, 2013 6:56pm EST

TOKYO Feb 1 (Reuters) - Sharp Corp is set to post its first operating profit in five quarters in the three months through December, sources familiar with the matter said on Friday, boosted by strong sales of home appliances and mobile phones.

The rebound in earnings will bolster the consumer electronics maker's chances for a return to profit for the rest of the business year, which it needs to convince lenders and shareholders, including U.S. chipmaker Qualcomm Inc, that it is viable.

Sharp, which is due to report third-quarter results later in the day, would post an operating profit of 2 billion to 3 billion yen ($22 million-$33 million) for the third quarter, the sources said. The profit compares with an average 230 million yen loss estimated by seven analysts.

A weaker yen also boosted Sharp's October-December earnings, the sources said, adding that the company would stick with its second-half operating profit forecast of 13.8 billion yen.

Sharp spokeswoman Miyuki Nakayama declined to comment.

Japan's largest electronics companies have in past decades gradually ceded their market lead to lower-cost rivals from China and Korea, like Samsung Electronics.

Sharp is fighting for survival after years of losses. The company in November doubled its full-year net loss forecast to $5.6 billion.

In October, it secured a $4.4 billion bailout from banks including Mizuho Financial Group and Mitsubishi Financial Group. To secure the loans, the firm had to mortgage its offices and factories in Japan, including one that makes screens for Apple Inc's iPad and latest iPhone.

It also pledged to trim its workforce by 10,000 people and sell off assets including its overseas TV assembly plants.

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