REFILE-Nikkei up on SoftBank, Panasonic; Sony plunges 10 pct on profit-warning

Thu Oct 31, 2013 9:55pm EDT

* Sony tumbles 10 pct after slashing guidance
    * Panasonic jumps to 2-1/2 year high after lifting f'cast

    By Dominic Lau
    TOKYO, Nov 1 (Reuters) - Japanese stocks inched higher on
Friday morning, helped by solid earnings from the likes of
Panasonic and mobile operator SoftBank Corp, but the mood was
somewhat dimmed by a plunge in Sony Corp shares on a
profit-warning.
    Sony, the maker of the famed Walkman music player
to the game console PlayStation, tumbled 10 percent after it
slashed its full-year operating profit forecast by 26 percent as
its struggling TV operations fell back into red. 
    Rival Panasonic was cheered by investors, with the
stock up 5.9 percent to a 2-1/2 year peak after it lifted its
earnings forecast on strong sales of products like batteries to
industry clients. 
    Sharp Corp, like its domestic peers which have been
struggling against the onslaught of foreign rivals such as
Samsung Electronics and Apple Inc, posted
its first quarterly net profit in two years, beating market
expectations. The stock was up 5.2 percent.   
    The benchmark Nikkei advanced 0.3 percent to
14,365.43, rebounding from a 1.2 percent decline in the previous
session. The benchmark is up 2 percent so far this week after
shedding 3.3 percent last week.
    Adding to the positive sentiment, China's manufacturing
sector expanded at the fastest pace in 18 months in October,
official data showed on Friday, providing fresh signs of a
stabilisation in the world's second-largest economy.
 
    A senior trader at a foreign brokerage in Tokyo said company
earnings after Thursday's market close were a bit mixed but
added that buy orders still outpaced sell by two to one.
    "People who have been active are traditional real money
accounts in large cap stocks ... We've seen retail investors
slowing down a little bit and institutional investors stepping
up a little bit," he said.
    The broader Topix index was flat at 1,194.76, with
trading volume at 30 percent of its full daily average for the
past 90 trading days.  
    Index heavyweight SoftBank jumped 3.7 percent after
it reported a record six-month profit, spurred by strong sales
of handsets, subscriber growth and a share price that has more
than doubled this year. 
    SoftBank was the most-traded on the main board by turnover,
followed by Sony, Sharp and Panasonic.
    Ink-jet printer and electronic parts maker Seiko Epson Corp
 was untraded with a glut of buy orders after it raised
its annual operating profit guidance by 57 percent to 58 billion
yen. The stock was notionally quoted at 1,996 yen, up 25 percent
from its Thursday's close of 1,596 yen.
    Underscoring the mix bag of earnings, TDK Corp 
dropped 3.9 percent to a three-week low, with analysts
expressing concerns about its outlook on hard disk drive
business.
    Nevertheless, the quarterly earnings season so far has
sprung few surprises. Of the 83 Nikkei companies that have so
far reported quarterly earnings, 58 percent of them either beat
or met analysts' expectations, according to Thomson Reuters
StarMine, in line with the previous quarter. 
    The Nikkei has risen nearly 40 percent this year on the back
of the Japanese government's aggressive monetary and fiscal
stimulus.
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