(Corrects spellchecker errors in 4th, 5th, 10th, 13th and 14th
* Panasonic soars 13 pct after posting Q3 profit
* Financials in focus, profits benefit from booming stock
* Yen softens further, at 33-month low
By Sophie Knight
TOKYO, Feb 4 Japan's Nikkei share average
climbed to a fresh 33-month high in early Monday trade, with
consumer electronics in the spotlight on the back of a recovery
in the third quarter, and a softer yen keeping exporters ahead
of the market.
Panasonic Corp shot up 13.7 percent to a
seven-month high after the consumer electronics maker rebounded
to a quarterly profit and stuck with its full-year earnings
forecast. It was the second-most traded stock on the main board
The Nikkei added 0.2 percent to 11,208.73, coming away from
a fresh 33-month high of 11,270.56 struck earlier in the session
after U.S. data showing steady job creation and strong growth in
the manufacturing sector helped strengthen the dollar against
The Japanese currency, already on rapid downtrend due to an
aggressive campaign of fiscal and monetary expansion from new
Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, slumped to a fresh 33-month low
of 92.83 versus the greenback by Monday morning before the stock
market opened, later paring losses to reach 92.67.
"If the yen gets to 95 by the end of March, carmaker and
other exporters are definitely going to beat their forecasts
with revenue from their U.S. subsidiaries," said Fumiyuki
Nakanishi, general manager of investment and research at SMBC
Mazda Motor Corp and Nissan Motor Co Ltd
rose between 2.3 percent and 2.9 percent on Tuesday morning.
"But for the moment management are being cautious with their
exchange rate assumptions, so I expect the Nikkei to take a
breather after their results this week."
Optimism that a weaker yen will swell exporters' revenues
has driven the Nikkei up 30 percent since mid-November, when
Abe, then candidate for opposition leader, began calling for a
softer currency, as well as aggressive monetary policy to boost
Japan out of deflation.
That has been a boon for exporters, whose overseas revenues
are higher once repatriated, while the deflationary trade and a
booming stock market have also prompted investors to single out
financials over the past 2-1/2 months, propelling the Nikkei to
12 straight weekly gains on Friday.
Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group gained 2 percent
after its third-quarter net profit doubled, while CLSA raised
its rating to 'outperform' from 'underperform' and hiked its
target to 570 yen from 505 yen.
Japan's earning season is now in full swing, with Japan
Airlines Co Ltd and Hitachi Ltd among those to
report after the close on Monday.
However, the last quarter's results have shown little
evidence of the exchange rate's benefits, with two-thirds of the
77 Nikkei companies reporting so far missing analysts'
estimates, according to Thomson Reuters Starmine.
"There have been two very different reactions to bad
results: one, the stock is simply sold off, or two, it is bought
up because there's positive signs of what's to come," said
Masayuki Doshida, senior market analyst at Rakuten Securities.
"So Nintendo was sold off after it cut its forecast even
though the yen is weak, but Komatsu was bought up despite
cutting its forecast because there's signs of a pick-up in
China, where it has high exposure," he added.
There is also optimism that Japanese consumer electronics
companies, hurt last year by loss-making TV operations and
declining competitiveness due to an irrepressibly strong yen,
are beginning to reverse their fortunes.
Panasonic posted an operating profit of 34.6 billion yen
($374 million), up from an 8.1 billion yen loss a year ago, as
it moves its business away from loss-making TVs in favour of
Sharp, meanwhile, eked out a quarterly operating profit on
Friday, improving its chances of convincing lenders and
shareholders that it remains a viable company.
Sony Corp, due to report its results on Thursday,
was the most-traded stock on the main board by turnover, jumping
5.9 percent. SMBC Friend Securities' Nakanishi said the company
is judged undervalued as it was left behind in the recent rally
and that its recent gains amount to a "correction".
The broader Topix rose 0.6 percent to 947.80 by
($1 = 92.8400 Japanese yen)
(Additional reporting by Ayai Tomisawa; Editing by Eric Meijer)