Panasonic posts $1.04 billion profit in H1

The Japanese electronics group posted an operating profit of JPY 196.6 billion. Group net sales hit JPY 3857.9 billion, up slightly from the six months to the end of September 2016, according to an online statement. In particular, sales in its automotive unit rose 14% year on year to JPY 1343 billion. Earlier this year, the group started producing lithium-ion batteries for Tesla’s energy storage products and electric vehicles in the U.S. state of Nevada. It also opened a new factory for automotive lithium-ion batteries in northern China and announced plans to start making batteries in Himeji, Japan.

In the first six months of the Japanese fiscal year, sales in Panasonic’s Eco Solutions divisions, which produces PV modules, rose roughly 4% year on year to JPY 757.3 billion, from JPY 726.6 billion a year earlier. However, sales of PV systems fell throughout the first half, the group said. Its Eco Solutions unit recorded an operating profit of JPY 21.3 billion, down slightly from the preceding year, as the group dealt with the cost of restructuring its global solar business. 

In Japan, Panasonic — which recently bought common stock in its PanaHome unit — continues to expand its focus on the residential PV market. Among other projects, PanaHome is now moving forward with its plans to connect 117 homes in western Japan to a solar-powered microgrid system, in cooperation with the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI).

Beyond Japan, Panasonic recently started producing its heterojunction with intrinsic thin layer (HIT) solar cells with Tesla in Buffalo, New York. However, the outlook for the Osaka-based group’s global solar business remains unclear. It said it plans to start selling individual PV cells from fiscal 2018. It also plans to review its global manufacturing operations for PV modules and its plans to stop making solar panels at a facility in Japan’s Shiga prefecture by March 2018. Earlier this year, it halted production of silicon ingots at a factory in the U.S. state of Oregon.