Panasonic sees investment in Tesla and rechargeable batteries as ‘biggest growth driver’ for business

Panasonic’s investment in a Tesla battery partnership is causing the Japanese consumer electronics conglomerate to revise its annual profit forecast.  That announcement came on October 31, at an earnings briefing in which the Panasonic Corporation attributed its diminished financial picture due to a stronger yen, some 12 billion of which are associated with the upfront factory investment toward Tesla’s $5 billion Gigafactory.

Three indicators contributed to Panasonic’s lowered projections.

  • The July-September Panasonic operating profit came in at nearly 40 percent lower than previous year and about 14 percent divergent from analyst estimates.
  • The Panasonic profit forecast for the year ending March 31 fell to 245 billion yen ($2.33 billion) from a previous projection of 310 billion yen.
  • A Thomson Reuters Starmine SmartEstimate of 297.30 billion yen drawn from 16 analyst estimates is comparable to the revised Panasonic projections.

Panasonic plans to contribute up to $1.6 billion to produce electric vehicle and grid storage battery cells for Tesla. The Panasonic/ Tesla relationship is part of a larger network in which Panasonic supplies automotive batteries and other high-tech products to corporate customers.

Panasonic’s imminent negative profitability is being depicted as a transitional phase in the Corporation’s shift to smart technologies. “We are seeing strong demand for EV (batteries) not just from Tesla but various other automakers,” said Kazuhiro Tsuga, President of the Panasonic Corporation. “We see the rechargeable battery business as the biggest growth driver. So we are aggressively making upfront and strategic investment here.”

Tsuga had stated in his June 2016 message to shareholders that the corporation will continue to provide better living to its customers while also “aggressively” moving forward to become “a new Panasonic.” Based on a matrix that covers the three geographic regions of Japan, Europe, and Asia/ Africa overlaid onto the businesses of consumer electronics, housing, automotive, and B2B, the Panasonic Corporation tries to promote a growth strategy and R&D activities that generate new customer values and loyalties. The Corporation captures these aims through the “A Better Life, A Better World” slogan.

Panasonic’s 10-year vision focuses on artificial intelligence, energy storage and hydrogen energy, energy diversification, robotic home appliances, low carbon home energy solutions, autonomous driving, automotive energy solutions, and next-generation transportation, among others. Indeed, Panasonic’s interest in energy-saving home systems may soon be directed to solar cell production for Tesla. This next collaboration is, necessarily, contingent on Tesla’s acquisition of SolarCity.

As we reported last month, the growing partnership between Tesla and Panasonic on solar cell production and storage batteries may one day eliminate residential reliance on the power grid and provide the capacity to recharge electric cars each night. This melding of technology will almost certainly lead to an enhanced production ramp, possibly in late 2017 or even 2018.

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