Toshiba Corp. and Fujitsu Ltd. joined a growing list of computer makers recalling Sony Corp. batteries in the latest blow to consumer confidence in Sony's reputation as a manufacturer.
Toshiba said on Friday it would recall 830,000 laptop computer batteries, which Sony has said can short-circuit on rare occasions, overheat and catch fire. Fujitsu did not give the number of batteries to be replaced.
Earlier this month Sony also delayed the European launch of new game console PlayStation 3 by four months to March due to a production glitch.
The two personal computer manufacturers joined others that have recalled Sony batteries including Dell Inc., Apple Computer Inc. and Lenovo.
Sony announced a battery replacement programme on Thursday in the wake of yet another recall.
International Business Machines Corp. and Lenovo are recalling more than half a million notebook PC batteries made by Sony after a computer caught fire at Los Angeles International Airport, Lenovo and U.S. officials said on Thursday.
Sony said short circuits could occur on rare occasions when tiny metal particles come in contact with other parts of the batteries.
Toshiba's recall brings the number of Sony batteries recalled to more than 7 million since Dell in mid-August said it was recalling 4.1 million notebook batteries. Dell on Friday nudged up the number to 4.2 million.
Sony shares have lost 8.6 percent since Dell's initial announcement in August, while the Nikkei has gained 1.7 percent.
The announcements from Toshiba and Fujitsu came after the Tokyo market closed. Sony shares had fallen 0.8 percent to 4,780 yen, underperforming a 0.64 percent rise in the Nikkei average.
A Toshiba spokesman said the company did not think there were any safety issues regarding its PCs using Sony-made batteries, but it would recall them anyway to alleviate customer concerns. He added that Toshiba is not likely to pick up the tab for the recall.
Sony said the costs of the replacement programme were not clear at present, because details such as the duration of the programme and the number of batteries to be replaced have not yet been formally established.
Hitachi Ltd. said the electronics conglomerate has not decided whether to participate in Sony's replacement programme and ask its customers to exchange batteries.
Following the Dell and Apple announcements in August, Sony has said the two recalls would cost it between 20 billion yen and 30 billion yen ($170 million-$255 million).
The higher figure equals about one-fourth of Sony's net profit for the current business year to March.
LIMITED IMPACT SEEN
Analysts said the IBM/Lenovo recall and Sony's replacement programme are likely to have limited impact on its earnings and the long-term prospects of its battery business.
The 30 billion yen estimate should have been a conservative one. I don't think these additional factors would raise the cost far away from that estimate, Morgan Stanley analyst Masahiro Ono said before the announcements by Toshiba and Fujitsu.
In a longer term, Sony will remain one of the top-class battery suppliers, and it is unrealistic that PC makers halt procurement from Sony.
Dell said after the recall announcement that it would keep Sony as a supplier of notebook batteries.
Ono estimated that Sony's battery business would have an operating profit margin of about 5 percent in the current business year to March. That compares with Sony's own forecast of its overall operating margin of 1.6 percent for the year.
He expected sales of 180 billion yen at Sony's battery operation in the year to March 2007, representing 2 percent of its overall revenue.
Lenovo, the world's third-largest PC maker after Dell and Hewlett-Packard Co., bought International Business Machines Corp.'s PC division in May 2005 and has continued to sell machines with IBM's ThinkPad brand.
(Additional reporting by Mayumi Negishi, Risa Maeda)