* 2013 operating profit view now 360 bln yen vs 380 bln
* Q3 operating profit rebounds vs weak year-earlier period
* Weakness in Europe, China lasting longer than expected
(Adds comment from executive, analyst, background details)
By Sophie Knight
TOKYO, Oct 24 Japan's Canon Corp cut
its operating profit outlook for the second quarter in a row,
below analysts' estimates, warning that sales of its signature
high-end cameras will fall this year for the first time since
their launch in 2003.
The world's largest camera maker said it now sees global
economic gloom squeezing sales of its digital
interchangeable-lens cameras to 8 million through December from
8.2 million last year. Demand from camera buffs will stay weak
in Europe, and fail to recover as quickly in China as Canon had
While the company's point-and-shoot digital camera sales
have been hit in recent years as consumers increasingly use
smartphones to take casual shots, the high-margin
interchangeable-lens format favoured by professional
photographers and enthusiasts has seen growth every year up to
2012, company officials said.
Despite a rebound in operating profit for July-September
from a weak quarter a year earlier, Canon lowered its full-year
operating profit forecast to 360 billion yen ($3.70 billion).
That compares with an average of 378.5 billion yen based on 23
analysts' estimates according to Thomson Reuters Starmine.
"Until recently, interchangeable-lens sales' growth was
close to double figures even when the economy was bad. But now
people are postponing consumption of luxury items such as
cameras," Chief Financial Officer Toshizo Tanaka said during a
briefing in Tokyo, adding that consumers had become more
sensitive to price.
In July, predicting a pickup in China in the second half of
the year, the company forecast operating profit would be 380
billion yen, compared with 324 billion yen for 2012. Tanaka said
protracted gloom in Europe was half of the reason for the
Canon said it now sees sales of the digital
interchangeable-lens format coming in 11 percent below its
previous forecast of 9 million cameras, issued in July.
Makoto Kikuchi, chief executive of Myojo Asset Management in
Tokyo, said, "The slump in interchangeable-lens cameras is not
due to a structural problem such as market saturation, but
solely because of the worsening of the macroeconomic
"For October-December, emerging economies such as China,
India and Brazil may weaken further," Kikuchi said.
One of the first of Japan's technology companies to report
results for July-September, Canon made 90.6 billion yen in
operating profit in the July-September quarter, up 28 percent
from last year, when anti-Japanese sentiment in China stirred by
a territorial dispute depressed sales of a range of Japanese
Japanese rival Nikon Corp reports earnings on Nov.
Canon's compact camera sales have long been hit by the boom
in demand for smartphones that take photos. But the company left
its 2013 sales forecast for compact cameras unchanged at 14
million, against 18.3 million in 2012.
Stock in the company, which also makes products like office
printers, chip making equipment and medical devices, has fallen
6.3 percent this year.
That compares with a nearly 40 percent rise in the Nikkei
index, driven by growth expectations surrounding Prime
Minister Shinzo Abe's policy drive to reinvigorate the Japanese
($1 = 97.2900 Japanese yen)
(Reporting by Sophie Knight; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell)