Canon 4Q Profit Up Fivefold

Camera and office equipment maker said net profit totaled $669 million, up from $129.6 million last year, as global stimulus measures helped drive demand for new cameras.

TOKYO (AP) -- Canon's fourth quarter net profit soared more than fivefold from a year earlier, as global stimulus measures helped drive demand for new cameras.

The camera and office equipment maker said Wednesday its net profit for the October-December quarter totaled 61.56 billion yen ($669 million), up from 11.62 billion yen last year.

It forecast sales and profit for 2010 to grow on an annual basis for the first time in three years as the global economy recovers.

Operating profit for the quarter more than doubled to 92.13 billion yen ($1 billion) from 35.83 billion yen, while sales fell 4 percent to 954.06 billion yen ($10.4 billion).

The Tokyo-based company credited growing sales of its profitable digital single-lens reflex cameras, which offset lackluster demand for its printers and copy machines.

Governments around the world have pumped their economies with cash and consumer incentives to spur household spending. In Japan, for example, families received cash handouts last spring as well as incentives to buy eco-friendly appliances.

For 2009, Canon Inc. posted a 57 percent fall in net profit to 131.65 billion yen ($1.4 billion) on 22 percent lower revenue of 3.21 trillion yen ($34.9 billion). Operating profit declined 56 percent to 217.06 billion yen ($2.4 billion).

Canon blamed the global downturn and a stronger yen for weighing on its full-year earnings. Then yen averaged 93.21 to the dollar during the year, up about 10 percent, the company said.

It expects conditions to keep improving as the global recovery strengthens, and projects sales and profit to expand for the first time in three years.

"Although China and emerging nations with significantly expanding economies are expected to continue enjoying steady growth, deteriorating employment conditions and other factors make it difficult to predict the economic prospects for developed countries even though they are projected to realize positive growth," the company said in its earnings report.

It forecast net profit to rise 52 percent to 200 billion yen ($2.2 billion) on 8 percent higher sales of 3.45 trillion yen ($37.5 billion).

Unlike many Japanese companies, Canon's fiscal year matches the calendar year. The company reports earnings under U.S. accounting rules.

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