The following is excerpted from IRG's weekly stock report:
Hardware• Sony (SNE) will take 33 percent stake in Sharp's (SHCAY.PK) US$3.5 billion LCD plant to meet soaring demand. The plant is set for completion by March 2010 in a move of alliances among Japanese flat-screen television makers as they try to secure enough panels while keeping initial investments in check to fight steep price declines. Sharp, which makes Aquos LCD televisions, plans to turn its LCD factory into a joint venture. The joint venture will also produce LCD modules along with LCD driver chips. Global LCD television sales are expected to more than double to 155 million units by 2012, according to the Japan Electronics and Information Technology Association.
Semiconductor• Toshiba Corp. (TOSBF.PK) and IHI Corp. denied a Yomiuri newspaper report that they are in talks to form a venture to build nuclear power plants. Toshiba and IHI are discussing starting a venture with annual sales of 1 trillion yen (US$9.5 billion), which would surpass revenue at Mitsubishi Heavy Industries' power unit, including the nuclear-plant business, the Yomiuri newspaper reported. However, Toshiba and IHI denied these claims. Toshiba is targeting the U.S. and China to more than triple nuclear sales by 2015. IHI, which corrected last fiscal year's profit to a loss after underestimating costs at a unit, is selling its unprofitable cement operations and is reorganizing itself to revive earnings.
Telecommunications• NTT DoCoMo Inc. (DCM), Japan's largest wireless operator, announced that it will offer free calls among family members to challenge similar discounts by KDDI Corp. and Softbank Corp. (SFTBF.PK). Family members using DoCoMo's existing plan, which offers a 30 percent discount, can make calls and send e-mails to each other for free from April 1, the Tokyo-based company said in a statement. KDDI, Japan's second-largest mobile-phone company, last week stepped up competition in the US$83 billion market by waiving call fees for family members, countering Softbank's plan. DoCoMo also said it will raise monthly charges for the i-mode mobile Internet service by 50 percent to 315 yen from June 1. Separately, the company said it will offer corporate customers a flat rate for domestic calls. The moves by DoCoMo will lead to a net reduction of 30 billion yen (US$282 million) from sales in the year starting April 1, spokeswoman Makiko Furuta said.
Disclaimer: IRG is not responsible for the accuracy of the news compiled within this article, which is based on publicly available information.