Canon sees first profit gain in three years after medical unit acquisition

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TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese camera and printer maker Canon Inc forecast full-year operating profit to climb 11.4 percent, its first rise in three years, bolstered by earnings from a medical equipment unit it bought from Toshiba Corp last year.

The $5.8 billion acquisition of the unit, which makes X-ray scanners and eye examination machines, is part of Canon’s strategy to diversify as demand for its cameras, printers and copier machines wanes amid the spread of smartphones and paperless media.

The company forecast operating profit to rise to 255 billion yen ($2.3 billion) this year from 228.9 billion in the previous twelve months - in line with an average analyst estimate of 254 billion yen from 19 analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Fourth-quarter operating profit fell 25.1 percent to 80.2 billion yen from a year earlier, hurt after the yen strengthened following Britain’s vote in June to leave the European Union.

That was below a consensus estimate of 88.5 billion yen from four analysts.

Reporting by Tim Kelly; Editing by Edwina Gibbs