Japanese camera and copier giant Canon Inc on Thursday forecast a 21 percent rise in operating profit for 2011, roughly in line with market expectations, helped by higher camera sales and cost cuts.
Strong sales from its mainstay office copier and laser printer business and an aggressive push into emerging markets are also expected to boost Canon's profits.
The world's largest maker of digital cameras expects 470 billion yen ($5.72 billion) in operating profit for the year that ends in December, against the average estimate of 472.5 billion yen in a poll of 19 analysts by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
It projected sales to rise 10.6 percent to 4.1 trillion yen.
Canon, which also makes inkjet printers, aims to sell 30 million digital cameras in 2011, 11.5 percent more than a year ago and assumes a dollar/yen exchange rate of 85 yen for this year and a euro/yen rate of 110 yen.
I am expecting to see economic recovery in developed countries this year, especially from the second half, and along with it, demand for office equipment is likely to pick up, in particular in North America so, I am paying attention to Canon and other firms that have large exposure in the region, said Takeshi Osawa, a senior fund manager at Norinchukin Zenkyoren Asset Management.
The company this business year is predicting office equipment operating profit to jump 9.8 percent to 322 billion yen, with operating income from consumers products expected to gain 11.3 percent to 265 billion yen.
The firm, which competes against Sony Corp and Nikon Corp in cameras and Xerox Corp and Ricoh Co Ltd in copiers, posted a 10 percent fall in operating profit to 82.8 billion yen for October-December compared with a year earlier, hurt by heavier spending on research and development.
For the past business year, the maker of EOS and IXY brand digital cameras booked a 79 percent surge in operating profit to 387.6 billion yen, which was well flagged to the market after the firm revised up its forecast to 390 billion yen in October.
Eastman Kodak Co on Wednesday reported a larger-than-expected quarterly loss, while Xerox issued a profit forecast that was at the low end of analyst estimates and said its finance chief would retire -- sending its shares down more than 7 percent.
It's expecting a double digit increase in camera revenue, but the projected PER is 16 times, so while it doesn't look an expensive stock neither does it seem cheap, said Hiroyuki Fukunaga, the president of investment fund itrust. In order for the stock to push past its high of 4,520 yen last year there would have to be some positive news from the business environment.
Canon shares rose almost 8 percent last year, outperforming a 3 percent decline in the benchmark Nikkei average. Its shares closed 2.2 percent higher at 4,195 yen on Thursday before the company released its results.
(Additional reporting by Taiga Uranaka, Tim Kelly and Daiki Iga in Tokyo, Ploy Ten Kate in Bangkok; Editing by Dhara Ranasinghe and Nathan Layne)