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Panasonic sheds units to reach big sales goal

– Panasonic Corp. plans to boost sales by about 34 percent during the next five years with a strategy that includes reducing its number of business units and selling a plasma-display factory in Japan.

Japan’s second-biggest television maker targets 10 trillion yen ($98 billion) in revenue in the 2018 fiscal year, President Kazuhiro Tsuga told reporters in Tokyo on Thursday. That compares with the 7.48 trillion yen in the fiscal year ending March 31, according to the average of 19 analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

Panasonic is a third of the way through its three-year plan to achieve an operating profit of about 350 billion yen by the year ending March 2016 by focusing on growing businesses after consecutive record losses. The autos unit, which supplies Tesla Motors Inc. with battery cells, accounts for 36 percent of sales and is targeted for growth as the company ends production of plasma TVs.

“It is a much higher target than its current revenue and I think it is challenging,” Damian Thong, a Tokyo analyst at Macquarie Group said of the sales goal. “They need to go overseas to achieve the target. It will require more than restructuring.”

The Osaka company will cut the number of business units to 43 from 49 while targeting sales of 7.75 trillion yen in the fiscal year starting April 1. Panasonic also is planning to boost operating income to 310 billion yen, compared with 295 billion yen this year, according to the estimates.

Panasonic rose 0.1 percent to 1,191 yen in Tokyo before the announcement, paring its loss to 2.7 percent this year compared with a 9.6 percent decline in the benchmark Topix index.

Tsuga has suspended plasma panel production, downsized smartphone and circuit-board businesses, and sold chip factories to Israel’s Tower Semiconductor Ltd.. Panasonic acquired a Turkey wiring company last year for about $460 million.