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Last Updated: Thursday, 29 January, 2004, 06:46 GMT
Fujitsu and NEC back in profit
Staff at Japanese mobile firm NTTDocomo check new 3G phones
A new generation of gadgets is reviving tech profits
Three of Japan's big league consumer electronics firms have posted financial results that appear to confirm the sector's toughest times are over.

Chips-to-laptop makers NEC and Fujitsu both climbed back to quarterly profit, while at Canon digital camera sales boosted full-year profits by 45%.

NEC reported October to December net profits of 11.1bn yen ($104m; 57m) against a loss of 4.5bn yen a year ago.

Fujitsu's quarterly profit was 7.6bn yen against a 24bn yen loss in 2002.

Snap-happy consumers

Japan's chip makers and electronic goods firms have shed thousands of jobs in recent years to get back in shape after being hit by sudden stagnation in demand for PCs and mobile phones coupled with the global economic downturn.

But consumers' appetite for digital cameras, photo phones and flat screen TVs now seems to be driving the hi-tech sector.

Earlier this month, leading US tech companies Intel - the world's biggest maker of computer chips - and computer-maker Apple also reported improved business during the final quarter of 2003.

NEC's return to profit was helped by strong sales of mobile handsets, where it has nearly a quarter of Japan's domestic market, and a 76% jump in quarterly profits at its chip-making subsidiary NEC Electronics.

Fujitsu makes screens and microchips used in flat screen TVs photo phones and digital cameras.

Painful cure pays

Fujitsu has cut jobs and targeted software and outsourcing business, recently winning a 896m contract to manage British health service record-keeping systems.

Canon, which sells one fifth of the world's digital cameras, reported forecast-beating full-year 2003 net profits of 275.7bn yen, up 45% from 2002.

Its 2003 sales rose by a more modest 8.8% to 3.2 trillion yen.

Toshiba was the Japanese tech sector's odd one out, failing to make a net profit in the October-to-December quarter.

Toshiba, which produces laptops and memory cards for digital cameras, posted an increased quarterly net loss of 9.25bn yen, up from 6.90bn yen in the same period a year ago.

But Toshiba said a change to its tax rules was to blame and that core operating profits rose to 14bn yen from 2.4bn yen in the comparable period.

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