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Sharp swings to first quarterly profit in two years, helped by weak yen

A man rides an escalator past Sharp Corp's advertisements at an electronics retail store in Tokyo October 31, 2013. REUTERS/Toru Hanai
A man rides an escalator past Sharp Corp's advertisements at an electronics retail store in Tokyo October 31, 2013. REUTERS/Toru Hanai

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan's Sharp Corp reported its first quarterly net profit in two years, beating estimates, as the weaker yen and revived demand for solar cells and display panels boosted the consumer electronics maker's turnaround drive.

Sharp, a supplier of panels for Apple Inc's iPhone, said on Thursday it made a net profit of 13.6 billion yen ($139 million) in its fiscal second quarter, its first since the three months ended September 2011.

That easily beat an expected net loss of 9 billion yen, according to Thomson Reuters' Starmine SmartEstimate, the average of the most accurate analysts' estimates.

A year earlier, in the trough of a depression brought on by strong competition from foreign rivals and pressure on its overseas revenues from a strong yen, Sharp made a net loss of 249.2 billion yen. The yen's slide since last November has turned Sharp's exports more profitable.

Sharp swung to an operating profit of 30.8 billion yen in July-September from an operating loss of 160.9 billion yen a year earlier.

Sharp has been scrambling to repair its balance sheet since racking up a total net loss of 545 billion yen in the last fiscal year.

A $4.6 billion rescue arranged by banks last year is contingent upon Sharp posting both an operating and net profit for the full year.

On Thursday, the company left its net profit forecast for the fiscal year through March 2014 unchanged at 5 billion yen.

For the first six months of the year, Sharp's net loss narrowed to 4.3 billion yen from 387.6 billion yen a year earlier.

(Reporting by Sophie Knight; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell)

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