The following includes questions and answers at the conference for the financial results for the Year Ended March 31, 2015.
Precision Equipment Business
Q. Please tell us about the results for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2015, and the impact of the impairment loss.
A. In the semiconductor lithography system field, sales of ArF scanners, ArF immersion scanners, and FPD lithography systems were on par with our previous forecast in February. Regarding the impact of the 15.2 billion yen impairment loss in the semiconductor lithography business on earnings in the year ending March 2016, we are expecting full-year depreciation and amortization costs to decline by approximately 2 billion yen.
Q. Please tell us about the outlook of the market and the sales of the lithography systems for this fiscal year in the precision equipment business?
A. We expect the overall semiconductor lithography system market for CY2015 to be generally on par with the previous year, at about 200 units. With respect to our ArF immersion scanners, we are expecting sales of 12 units, which represent an increase of 3 units from last year's sales of 9 units, as we are engaging in sales of the newest model NSR-S630D to new customers as well as sales of multiple units of our lithography systems for 450mm wafers.
With respect to the overall FPD lithography system market in CY2015, capital investment in small- and medium-sized high-definition panels is recovering, and we expect the market to increase from 54 units last year to roughly 75 units. We plan to maintain our high market share, centered on systems for high-definition panels, and we are expecting our sales of 50 units, representing an increase of 16 units from 34 units last year.
We are forecasting overall operating income to more than double year-on-year to 20 billion yen.
Imaging Products Business
Q. Please tell us about the outlook of the market and the sales for this fiscal year in the imaging products business?
A. We expect the digital cameras-interchangeable lens type market to decline 9% year-on-year to 12,400 thousands units, while we are expecting the market of the interchangeable lenses to also decline 9% year-on-year 20,600 thousands units. We are hoping that the extent of the decline narrows towards the second half of this fiscal year, but the market environment is likely to remain severe, including the uncertainty regarding the European economy and China's economic slowdown, which will inevitably have an impact on the results of our imaging products business.
Assuming this market outlook, we expect our sales of the digital cameras-interchangeable lens type to decline 8% from the previous year to 4,250 thousands units, and for sales of interchangeable lenses to decline 9% to 6,100 thousands units.
We will continue our activities targeting an increase in sales of middle/high class models, as well as our activities to improve costs and otherwise increase efficiency. However, we will also continue investments in the costs of development for new products at the same level as the previous fiscal year targeting future growth, and as a result we are expecting operating income to decline 33% on a year-on-year basis to 38.0 billion yen.
Q. Please tell us about the dividends for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2015, and about your shareholder returns policy going forward.
A. During the year ended March 2015, we made revisions to our operating performance forecast, but we kept the planned dividends of 32 yen per share unchanged. As a result, the dividend payout ratio temporarily increased if one looks at this past fiscal year alone.
Historically, we have set a goal of providing a total return ratio of 25% or more, but going forward, we would like to set a basic policy of providing a total return ratio of 30% or more.