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The following is excerpted from IRG's weekly stock report:

• • •

Hardware

  • Victor Co. (OTC:VJAPY), which will form a holding company with Kenwood Corp. (OTC:KNWCF) in October, plans to increase its video-camera shipments by 10 percent this fiscal year. Victor, the maker of JVC-brand electronics, is targeting shipments of 3.55 million video cameras in the year ending March 2009, up from 3.2 million a year earlier. Victor and Kenwood will form a holding company on October 1 to focus on car and audio electronics. Victor shares rose 2.2 percent to 235 yen (US$2.20) after the announcement.
  • Sony Corp. (NYSE:SNE) Chairman Howard Stringer said the company's top priority is to restore profitability at the company's television and gaming divisions. Stringer, 66, made the comment at Sony's annual shareholder meeting in Tokyo. The company is scheduled to announce its next mid- term business plan on June 26. Sony said when it reported earnings on May 14 profit at the electronics division, which makes Bravia TVs and Cyber-shot cameras, will fall this year as the stronger yen erodes the value of its exports. Tokyo-based Sony forecast net income will drop 22 percent to 290 billion yen (US$2.69 billion) in the year started April 1, matching the median estimate of five analysts in a Bloomberg survey.
  • Sony forecast it will sell 10 million PlayStation 3 machines and 9 million PlayStation 2s this year. That means the company may lose its rank as the world's largest maker of home video-game consoles because Kyoto-based Nintendo has projected it will sell 25 million Wii players this year. A motion by some shareholders for full disclosure of every board member's salary and retirement package was defeated. Sony only publishes managers' combined salary and retirement payments without giving a breakdown.
  • Data storage company SanDisk (NASDAQ:SNDK) has collaborated with Toshiba (OTCPK:TOSBF) to develop and manufacture rewriteable 3D memory chips. Both the companies will contribute and cross-license the technology related to 3D chips. SanDisk will also receive certain payments from Toshiba for licensing its intellectual property. Both the companies have collaborated in NAND flash for many years, and are currently shipping their 43nm NAND devices. Both the companies have decided to cease production at their joint venture in Japan, FlashVision, which manages part of the NAND flash-memory fabrication on 200-mm wafer lines.

Mobile/ Wireless

  • More Japanese firms are seeking to join the growing market for electronic books packaged for delivery to cell phones. The overall market for e-books grew some 1.7-fold to roughly 30 billion yen (US$277.8 million) in fiscal 2007. Content for cell phones accounted for more than 70 percent of that total. Helping to fuel the market was the introduction of wireless service plans with cheap, fixed fees for packet communications. Younger consumers are driving the demand, so the companies that provide content are developing more products like youth-oriented manga. Game software company Koei Co. is putting together a collection of light novels or novels with anime illustrations.
  • Huawei Technologies is scheduled to launch a Internet-capable H11HW mobile phone in the middle of June in Japan, debuting the Japanese market. Being able to support a data transfer speed of 3.6 megabit per second, the new mobile phone will be sold by Tokyo-based Japanese carrier Emobile. In addition to features like blue tooth, Web browser, music player and camera, the mobile phone will enable users to have access to those videophone services launched by Emobile. The mobile phone, catering for mass customers aside from business users, will be priced at 5,980 yen (US$56) each with a two-year use contract, or 29,980 yen (US$279) without a contract.

Semiconductor

  • Renesas Technology Corp., a joint venture between Hitachi (HIT) and Mitsubishi Electric, has developed a way to vastly reduce the sludge that remains after wastewater has been treated at semiconductor plants. The semiconductor industry uses a cocktail of toxic chemicals in the chip- making process and some ends up in the industrial wastewater. Chipmakers have made significant progress treating the wastewater, but the bacteria they use in the treatment tanks tend to die and accumulate as sludge. In the technique developed by Renesas, microbubbles are jetted into the tank, providing the bacteria with ample oxygen and keeping them alive. Microbubbles last long enough to reach bacteria even deep inside the tank.

Telecommunications

  • NTT DoCoMo Inc. (NYSE:DCM) has agreed to take a 30 percent stake in TM International (Bangladesh) Ltd., purchasing roughly 37 billion yen (US$342 million) in shares of the third-largest cellular service provider in Bangladesh. TMIB, a joint venture between Telekom Malaysia Bhd and Bangladeshi conglomerate A.K. Khan & Co., operates cell phone service under the Aktel brand. With about 7.4 million subscriptions, TMIB holds a 19 percent share of Bangladesh's cell phone market, which has been growing slightly faster than 60 percent a year. The nation of 150 million people had 38.3 million cellular service contracts as of March 31, 2008. DoCoMo will purchase all of the A.K. Khan group's TMIB shareholdings by the end of this year.
  • NTT DoCoMo would seek more acquisitions overseas and particularly in Asia. DoCoMo has not given up on talks to launch Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) Inc.'s iPhone and that it may also expand sales of Research In Motion's (RIMM) BlackBerry to individual customers. As the number of mobile phone subscribers approaches 108 million, or 85 percent of the country's population, DoCoMo and rivals KDDI Corp. and Softbank Corp. (SFBTF.PK) have been searching for other ways to expand business.

Source: Japanese Tech Stock Weekly Summary (6/16 - 6/22)