Japan's Sharp Corp <6753.T> swung to a quarterly profit on robust sales of display and solar panels, and forecast more than a twofold jump in annual operating profit to its highest in three years, beating market expectations.
Sharp, the maker of Aquos LCD TVs, trails Samsung Electronics <005930.KS>, Sony Corp <6758.T> and LG Electronics <066570.KS>, in LCD TVs. It is benefiting from cost competitive display panels made at its cutting-edge Japanese LCD plant which came onstream in October.
To help drive its display and solar panel operations further, Sharp started output at a new solar cell factory last month, and plans to double output capacity at its flagship LCD plant in July, three months ahead of its original schedule.
On Tuesday, the company said it expects operating profit to more than double to 120 billion yen ($1.3 billion) for the year to March 2011, above the consensus of a 112.9 billion yen profit in a poll of 22 analysts by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Sharp is also the world's third-largest solar cell maker behind First Solar and Suntech Power Holdings Co and is seeing brisk demand in Japan thanks to government subsidies for residential solar panel installation.
Sharp reported operating profit of 29.3 billion yen in January-March, the final quarter of the previous financial year, a reversal from a loss of 90.4 billion yen a year earlier.
Before the results, Sharp shares closed up 2 percent at 1,254 yen, outperforming a 1.6 percent rise in the Tokyo stock market's electrical machinery index <.IELEC.T>. The stock has gained 5.4 percent so far this year through Monday versus a 15.5 percent rise in the sector index.
(Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka; Editing by Anshuman Daga)