Nikon Profit Down 64%, Sees Loss Ahead

Sign of the times
Will we see this same sort of report coming from Canon?

TOKYO, May 13 (Reuters) - Japanese precision equipment and camera maker Nikon Corp (7731.T: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) said on Wednesday annual operating profit fell 64 percent, hurt by weak sales of chip-making machines, and it forecast a tumble into the red this year.

Operating income was 48.2 billion yen ($495 million) in the year ended March 31, beating an average market estimate of 42 billion yen from 17 brokerages surveyed by Thomson Reuters.

For the current financial year, Nikon, which launched a new entry-level digital single-lens reflex camera this month, forecast a loss of 12 billion yen, smaller than an average estimate from analysts of a 17 billion yen loss.

The world’s No.2 maker of chip steppers after Netherlands-based ASML (ASML.O: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) has been hurt by spending cuts by chipmakers amid a prolonged downturn and is looking increasingly to its cameras to cover the shortfall.

Steppers are multi-million dollar machines used to scan circuitry onto silicon wafers to make semiconductors. Canon Inc (7751.T: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) also competes in the market.

Shares of Nikon shed 58 percent in the year ended in March, while Canon lost close to 39 percent and Olympus Corp (7733.T: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) lost 48 percent. (Reporting by Mayumi Negishi; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)

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