Panasonic shares soar nearly 17% on earnings

Panasonic shares soared nearly 17 percent on Monday as investors reacted to the Japanese electronics giant's latest earnings, while rivals Sony and Sharp also spiked on upbeat sentiment.

Panasonic closed 16.89 percent higher at 692 yen in Tokyo, following the company's announcement after the close of Friday's session that it posted an operating profit of 121.95 billion yen ($1.32 billion) in the nine months to December, and a 61.4 billion yen net profit in the last three months of 2012.

That marked a huge reversal from a net loss of 197.6 billion yen a year earlier, with Panasonic citing aggressive cost-cutting as part of a massive corporate overhaul aimed at stemming record losses.

"The recent rise in the share price reflects the market starting to factor in post-restructuring profit levels," said Credit Suisse analyst Shunsuke Tsuchiya.

However, Panasonic also said it lost about $6.77 billion in the nine months to December and was on track to lose a whopping $8.3 billion over its fiscal year to March, after posting a record net loss in the previous year.

Sony, which reports earnings this week, jumped 7.52 percent to 1,457 yen.

Sharp finished 5.47 percent higher at 347 yen, after the embattled maker of Aquos-brand electronics offered a glimmer of hope on Friday, saying it eked out a small operating profit in its October-December quarter.

The company, which last year warned over its survival, also said that its restructuring meant its future as a going concern was no longer in serious doubt, although it doubled its nine-month net loss to $4.6 billion.

The embattled trio has seen sales slump on the back of the global slowdown, a strong yen, fierce overseas competition, and strategic blunders as they also took on huge restructuring costs which hit their bottom line.

However, the firms have been helped by the yen's recent slide, which makes exports more competitive and ups the value of repatriated foreign earnings.

Monday's surge was also due to short-covering by investors who had bet on a decline in the firms' share prices, analysts said.

"There is some net-long buying, but the overwhelming driver right now is short-covering," an equity strategist told Dow Jones Newswires.

"For yen-sensitive companies that report a return to the black, the effects are potentially doubly beneficial for share prices."

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