Canon CEO aims to hike domestic production, expects yen to continue slide

TOKYO Thu Jan 9, 2014 1:09am EST

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TOKYO Jan 9 (Reuters) - Japan's Canon Inc will aim to hike the proportion of products made at home to 50 percent within the next three years from 42 percent, as the export-reliant camera maker banks on the yen weakening further, CEO Fujio Mitarai told Reuters in an interview on Thursday.

Mitarai said he was looking forward to seeing the yen extend its slide further this year after it fell more than 20 percent in 2013, but that the company would plan its strategy based on a "conservative" forecast of 100 yen to the dollar and 135 to the euro in 2014.

On Thursday, the dollar was at 104.75 yen and the euro was at 142.43 yen.

Mitarai said Canon's sales likely rose around 7 percent in 2013 against a targeted 7.8 percent increase to 3.75 trillion yen, while operating profit was likely flat against guidance of an 11.2 percent increase.

Mitarai said he wanted to increase both sales and profit by at least 5 percent in 2014. Canon will release its official targets at the end of January.

Sales of Canon's digital single-lens reflex cameras are likely to have fallen in 2013 to mark the first ever annual drop since the company released its first model in 2004, the CEO said, adding that they also look likely to come in below the company's forecast of 8 million units.

"SLR sales fell last year due to poor economic conditions," Mitarai said. "But I think that they will rise stably from now on. I want to aim for close to 9 million units in 2014." (Reporting by Reiji Murai and Sophie Knight; Editing by Christopher Cushing)

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