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Japanese Cellular Phone Giant Reports Weak Earnings - 2002-05-10


Japan's cellular phone giant reports weak earnings and a leading clothing retailer unveils a management shake-up.

NTT DoCoMo, the world's largest mobile phone operator, posted a slight profit of $6.7 million for the past fiscal year. That is a sharp drop from the year before and is the lowest for the company since it went public in 1998. The firm blames its performance on heavy losses from overseas investments.

Keiji Tachikawa, DoCoMo's president, told reporters that he wants to promote growth by developing new services. He adds that the company expects a big rebound in earnings this year.

DoCoMo added close to 5 million new subscribers in Japan last year, which helped to increase revenue by 10-percent. But sales are now slowing and the company's new, more expensive phones are not a big hit with consumers.

Fast Retailing, Japan's top causal clothing retailer, has announced a plan to shake-up its management. The company says its managing director, 39-year-old Genichi Tamatsuka will take over as president in November. The decision comes after the firm reported a sharp drop in sales last month.

Current President Tadashi Yanai denies that the reshuffle is related to lower sales. He says he wants his position to be filled by a younger person and that the firm has to recreate itself and aim for growth.

Some patrons of McDonald's Japan can now get wireless Internet access and make cheap long distance phone calls as they eat their burgers and fries. The fast food operator has joined forces with Internet investment firm, Softbank, to offer wireless access at some McDonald's restaurants in Tokyo, although customers will have to bring their own computers.

Low-cost Internet telephone service will also be available. The alliance reflects Softbank's desire to expand its broadband operations and McDonald's wish to attract more customers in Japan.

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