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Hitachi raises operating profit forecast

TOKYO, October 24 – Japan\’s Hitachi Ltd. on Friday sharply revised up its operating profit forecast for the first half, offering rare good news as global markets were pummelled by weak corporate earnings.

The electronics and engineering company said it was enjoying unexpectedly brisk sales of hard disks and of its system integration business, which does technical work for businesses.

The Tokyo-based company said it now expected operating profit of 197 billion yen (2.2 billion dollars) for the six months through September, up from a forecast of 125 billion yen and 62 percent higher than the period last year.

But Hitachi was cautious for the future, saying in a statement it would assess its full-year forecasts "in light of changes in the economic environment, including the global economy slowdown" and a rising yen.

Hitachi maintained its net profit forecast for the half year at 14 billion yen as it incurs losses for shutting down a factory involved in the increasingly competitive plasma television business.

Hitachi said last month it would stop producing its own glass panels — a major component in plasma panels — and instead buy them from Panasonic Corp.

It slightly revised down its revenue forecast for the first half to 5.31 trillion yen from 5.33 trillion yen due to falling demand and prices in the flat-panel business.

Hitachi\’s revision came a day after Japanese technology bellwether Sony Corp. issued a profit warning, helping send the Tokyo market plunging by more than nine percent on Friday.

Hitachi is due to announce its earnings on October 30.

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