The following includes questions and answers at the financial results conference.
Precision Equipment Business
Q. Please discuss the sales units of IC steppers and scanners by region.
A. Sales in Japan will most likely be lower, while sales in Korea will most likely increase over initially expected figures. In Japan, the reason for this can be attributed to the fact that our focus was on profitability and that we did not engage in any excessive price competition. With regards to Korea, we believe that the expected increase is due to our technical superiority.
Q. What is the outlook for immersion scanners?
A. We recorded 2 sales units of the NSR-S609B (NA 1.07) in September that we began shipment from January 2006. We expect to sell 9 units during the year ending March 2007. About 20 units mainly of the next-generation ArF immersion scanner NSR-S610C (NA 1.3) are expected to sell next fiscal year, and we believe that the little image defects of lithography and the various functional accuracies outstrip our competitor. There is a high level of interest from customers, with potential demand exceeding 30 units. As such we are considering increasing production capabilities.
Q. What are your plans for the KrF scanners and i-line steppers in the market?
A. We plan to incorporate the tandem stage employed in the ArF immersion scanners into KrF scanners to achieve higher throughput. With regards to i-line steppers, we will release new models that utilize completely new concepts to increase throughput by 50% into the market around the spring of 2007, thereby strengthening up our competitiveness.
Q. What is the outlook for capital expenditures of the LCD panels business?
A. According to surveys by various institutions, capital expenditures for next year are predicted to decrease about 20%. But this will not have an affect on our business for the current fiscal year.
Q. Please discuss expected profitability for the year ending March 2008.
A. While the ArF immersion scanner NSR-S610C is expected to be a driver of growth, we also expect the conventional (dry tools) ArF scanner NSR-S308F to be matured and become a major source of revenue. Meanwhile, with regards to LCD steppers and scanners, various concerns, such as excessive availability of LCD panels, mean that we will be watching this area carefully, but as a whole, we plan to achieve increased sales and profit.
Imaging Products Business
Q. Please comment on the compact digital camera business.
A. This fiscal year also saw the entry of major consumer electronics firms into the market for digital SLR cameras, with business operations focusing on digital SLR cameras and interchangeable lenses. Estimated shipment units of compact digital cameras has been revised with a view to focusing on profits, and we will work to achieve expansions in sales by ensuring that the Face-priority AF and wireless LAN(Wi-Fi) technologies that we pioneered become firmly established in the market.
Q. Can you provide details regarding the review of the Medium Term Management Plan?
A. Concerns about the economic slowdown in the US, for example, mean that achieving the targets given in the Medium Term Management Plan may not be as easy as we had thought. While market trends and the effects of business conditions cannot be avoided, we are confident that the performance slumps of the past will not be repeated. A review of the initial fiscal year will be conducted in May 2007, coinciding with the scheduled financial results for the year ending March 2007. We will reexamine the conditions that have affected our company as part of this process, and decide whether targets should be left as they are or reviewed.