TOKYO Japan's leading chip maker Toshiba Corp (6502.T) said on Tuesday it expects a 45 percent jump in profits this business year on Tuesday, boosted by robust demand for its flash memory chips used in blockbuster Apple (AAPL.O) iPhones.
The industrial electronics conglomerate, which makes everything from light bulbs to nuclear reactors, expects the electronic devices division, home to NAND flash memory chips used in smartphones and tablet PCs, to grow operating profits by around 33 percent, underpinning income amid continuing weakness in its television division.
Toshiba forecast an annual operating profit of 300 billion yen ($3.75 billion), above the mean estimate of 281.9 billion yen from a poll of 22 analysts by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
"Their digital products section is 28.2 billion yen in the red, and they say they're going to get 15 billion into the black this year - that may be overshooting a little bit," said Fujio Ando, senior managing director at Chibagin Asset Management.
For the year that ended March 31, Toshiba logged an operating profit of 206.65 billion yen, down 14 percent from the previous year, squeezed by weak domestic TV sales and a global economic slowdown.
"Demand for LCD television fell off sharply in domestic markets," said Corporate Executive Vice President Makoto Kubo.
The results were broadly in line with the consensus estimate of 208.7 billion yen profit expected by 22 analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
In the digital products division, which includes LCD TVs, it posted an operating loss of 28.2 billion yen in the year just ended, down from a 289 billion profit in the previous year, reflecting the challenges facing Japan's major TV makers that include Sony Corp (6758.T), Panasonic Corp (6752.T) and Sharp Corp (6753.T).
Kubo said earning had also suffered due to the devastating March 2011 earthquake and tsunami in northeastern Japan and floods in Thailand last year that severely disrupted supply chains.
"Last year's earthquake and Thailand's floods had an added impact of 90 billion yen in 2011," he said.
For the fourth quarter, the firm logged 115.87 billion yen in operating profit, a rise of 18 percent, compared with 109.3 billion yen estimated by six analysts on Thomson Reuters Starmine.
Shares in Toshiba, which competes with Samsung Electronics (005930.KS) and Hynix Semiconductor Inc (000660.KS) in semiconductors and with GE (GE.N) and Areva (AREVA.PA) in nuclear reactors, are up about 1 percent so far this year, underperforming a rise of around 8 percent in the benchmark Nikkei .N225.
Tuesday's earnings results were announced after Tokyo markets closed. Toshiba shares ended up 2.9 percent ahead of its results, versus a 0.7 percent gain in the Nikkei.
Sector rivals are also due to announce their earnings later this week, with Sony reporting results on Thursday and Panasonic to do so on Friday. ($1 = 79.9200 Japanese yen)
(Reporting by Mari Saito; Editing by Alex Richardson)