Sharp keeps annual LCD TV sales estimate

TOKYO (Reuters) - Sharp Corp President Mikio Katayama said the Japanese electronics maker aims to sell 11 million units of LCD TVs in the year to March despite an economic slowdown and a firmer yen, standing by its previous estimate.

Sharp, which competes with Samsung Electronics Co and Sony Corp in the flat TV market, said in July its LCD TVs sales in the current business year are likely to exceed its original target of 10 million units by at least 10 percent.

In an effort to drive sales in the critical holiday season, Sharp on Wednesday unveiled the world’s first LCD TVs equipped with a Blu-ray recorder.

“These are the products that can clearly differentiate themselves from competitors,” Katayama told a news conference.

“By launching them in the year-end shopping season, we are aiming to do our best in fighting sluggish consumption, a slowing economy, an adverse business environment and fierce competition.”

Sharp plans to start offering the LCD TV/Blu-ray hybrid on November 20 in Japan and by the end of the year in North America, with launches in Europe and Asia slated for 2009.

A model with a 32-inch display is estimated to sell for 200,000 yen ($1,974) in Japan, Sharp said.

Overseas models will mainly come equipped with a Blu-ray player, rather than a recorder, Katayama said.

Shares in Sharp closed up 3 percent at 890 yen, outperforming the Tokyo stock market’s electrical machinery index, which fell 2.1 percent.

Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka