Shares of Japan's Toshiba Corp <6502.T> gained 9.5 percent after a newspaper reported it would likely see an operating profit of about $1 billion next business year, in sharp contrast with analyst estimates for a loss.
The Nikkei daily said lower fixed costs and growth in its infrastructure business would likely bring Toshiba back into the black in the year to March 2010, despite persistent weakness in the chip and consumer electronics sectors.
But analysts are unconvinced that Toshiba, which faces its worst-ever annual loss this business year on its struggling chip operations, will be able to secure the reported 100 billion yen ($1 billion) profit next year.
A poll of 13 analysts by Reuters Estimates shows a consensus estimate for a 103 billion yen loss.
Unless earnings at its semiconductor business turn around considerably, it would be hard to reach the reported figure, Deutsche Securities analyst Takeo Miyamoto said.
If this was somehow indicated by Toshiba and was not the Nikkei's own calculation, that would be rather too optimistic.
Shares of Toshiba, Japan's fourth-largest electronics company by sales with products also including cellphones, TVs, household appliances and nuclear plants, closed up 9.5 percent at 242 yen, outperforming a 4.6 percent rise in the Nikkei average <.N225>.
The shares rebounded from a three-day losing streak and added 68 billion yen in the company's market value, taking it to 783.5 billion yen ($8 billion).
Toshiba spokesman Keisuke Ohmori said the company has not decided on its forecasts for next business year.
Hit by sliding prices and sluggish chip demand, Toshiba, the world's No.2 maker of NAND flash memory after Samsung Electronics <005930.KS>, has projected an operating loss of 280 billion yen for the year ending on March 31.
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That prompted it to map out a $3.3 billion cost-cutting plan in January, saying it would aim to return to profit next business year by slashing capital spending and contract jobs.
Among its restructuring measures, Toshiba plans to halve capital spending by delaying construction of new flash memory chip plants and reining in spending to increase LCD output. It will also cut research and development outlays by 20 percent next business year.
The Nikkei said Toshiba will likely only break even on a net earnings basis next business year because of a 35 billion yen restructuring charge.
Its chip business is expected to book an annual loss again as prices keep falling and demand remains sluggish for electronic gadgets such as portable music players that use Toshiba's NAND flash memory, the paper said.
Its infrastructure division, on the other hand, will likely see profits rise on the back of expanding overseas business for nuclear and thermal power plants as well as for elevators in such markets as China and other Asian countries, it said.
(Editing by Michael Watson)