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Panasonic shares hit 30-year low on loss

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    Troubles abound for Japan's tech giants

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Story highlights

  • Panasonic posts annual loss of almost $10 billion, prompting shares to drop
  • Company attributed fall to drop in demand after earthquake, tsunami and higher yen
  • Follows record loss for rival Sony announced Thursday of $5.7 billion
  • Both companies hit by extra competition, sluggish sales of flat-screen TVs

Japanese electronics company Panasonic has plunged from profit to a record annual loss of 772.2 billion yen ($9.68 billion), prompting its shares to fall to a 30-year low.

The company blamed the annual loss on a number of factors including a drop in domestic demand due to electricity shortages in the aftermath of the Japan earthquake and tsunami in March 2011 .

The global economic downturn also knocked sales of Panasonic products including flat-screen televisions and digital cameras, which came under "intense price competition," the company said. The higher yen also bit into export income.

Panasonic's poor performance follows record annual losses for rival Sony. On Thursday, Sony announced its worst ever annual loss of $5.7 billion in the fiscal year ending March. However, it was lower than beleaguered electronics giant's previous estimates of finishing the year $6.4 billion in the red.

Both companies have struggled with ailing television manufacturing divisions, which have lost to lower cost rivals like Samsung and LG, and are hampered by a rising yen which has cut repatriated profits from overseas sales. Sony's television division has lost money for the past eight years.

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Panasonic has tried to steer the company away from its traditional and now sluggish revenue streams by molding itself into a green energy company. It's part-way through a three-year program called "Green Transformation 2012," and the company said Friday there are signs it is paying off.

    "With sales increases in products, such as air conditioners and refrigerators, meeting local needs in India and Brazil, and "HIT solar cells" by maximizing Panasonic Group sales strength in Japan, the positive results have started showing in some regions and businesses," Panasonic said in a statement.

    The restructuring should help lead the company back to profit, the company said, when it expects the ailing global economy to continue limping towards a sustainable recovery. Net income the next fiscal year is expected to reach 50 billion yen ($626 million).