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Canon president hands reins to CEO

Reuters reported on January 30 that Canon Inc’s president, Tuneji Uchida, 70, will resign on March 29, and be replaced by 76-year old chairman and CEO Fujio Mitarai.

Fujio Mitarai, chairman, CEO and now president of Canon Inc.

Mr Uchida asked to step down. The change comes in the light of forecast weak earnings growth.

Canon, which makes 80 percent of its revenue overseas, has been hit by a strong yen and a weak economy, on top of last year’s floods in Thailand which closed a printer plant, and the Japanese tsunami, which also impacted the supply chain.

Canon forecast 2012 operating profit of 390 billion yen ($4.8 billion), up from last year’s 378.1 billion yen, but around 80 billion yen short of analysts’ expectations.

However, Canon posted a 14 percent increase in fourth-quarter operating profit, to 94.6 billion yen, after a round of cost-cutting.

Canon aims to sell 22 million compact cameras and 9.2 million interchangeable lens cameras this year, up from 18.7 million and 7.2 million, respectively, last year. The ambitious goal for interchangeables represents an increase of close to 30 percent.

These sales goals need to be seen in the light of a recent decline in the global shipments of cameras. According to the Japanese Camera and Imaging Products Association, shipments declined 4.3 percent for the 11 months to the end of November from a year earlier.

Nikon said in November it expected to sell 16 million compact cameras in the year to end-March, and 4.7 million digital SLR cameras.

Canon shares have fallen about 18 percent since the start of last year, with the benchmark Nikkei average of a 14 percent decline.

Since 1995, under the leadership of Fujio Mitarai, Canon’s revenue has grown 70 percent while its steady streamlining of its production systems has made it one of Japan’s most profitable technology companies.

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