Japan's Sharp Corp. (Tokyo: 6753), a major supplier to Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL), the world's most valuable technology company, warned of “material doubt” it can survive as a public company.
Sharp warned it may report a loss as high as 450 billion yen (US $5.6 billion) for the year ending March 31, nearly double its prior estimate, unless it gets new capital.
In March, Sharp agreed to sell a 10 percent stake for about $880 million to Taiwan's Hon Hai Precision Industry (Taipei: 2317), Apple's principal contract manufacturer. That deal hasn't been completed yet.
“Sharp is in material circumstances in which material doubt about its assumed going concern is found,” the company announced to the Tokyo Stock Exchange Friday. Sharp shares fell about 2.4 percent to 165 yen.
One of the biggest makers of consumer electronic products such as TVs, Sharp has special expertise in making LCDs in its factories. They are sold in bulk to Hon Hai, or its Foxconn unit, for use in many Apple products.
Sharp also reported a six-month net loss of 387.5 billion yen, including an 84 billion yen charge to write off restructuring charges for shuttering its solar panel business in the U.S. and Europe.
The company didn't indicate any problems with ongoing shipments to Hon Hai or other customers, though.
Several other major Japanese consumer electronics giants, including Sony Corp. (NYSE: SNE) and Panasonic Corp. (NYSE: PC) indicated the next six months wouldn't be especially successful. Sony projected a full-year profit while Panasonic estimated a loss around 765 billion yen.
All the Japanese giants have depended upon robust shipments of PCs, laptops and smartphones for their business. Sales of PCs and laptops have barely kept pace with last year so far, while smartphone sales are burgeoning.
Representatives of Apple didn't comment on the Sharp report. The Cupertino, Calif.-based company reported cash and investments exceeding $117.5 billion as of Sept. 29.
Shares of Apple fell $9.08 to $577.46 in Friday trading, about 17 percent below their record high set last month.
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