The president of struggling electronics maker Sharp Corp. apologized on Wednesday for skipping dividend payments for the second straight year in fiscal 2013 ended in March, drawing a wave of complaints from its shareholders.
"I deeply apologize. We will try to resume dividend payments as soon as possible," Sharp President Kozo Takahashi said at a shareholders' meeting in Osaka.
The company returned to the black for fiscal 2013, backed by a recovery in its main liquid crystal display business, but many shareholders voiced complaints about the decision to forgo dividends.
One shareholder asked the company whether it can start paying dividends after its medium-term business plan through March 2016 but the company said, "We want to make a decision by taking into account the balance between (the dividend payment) and the strengthening of the capital base, which is our first priority," without elaborating further.
Other shareholders criticized management, saying that Sharp's reforms seem slow compared to those of its rival Panasonic Corp., which has decided to pay dividends for fiscal 2013 after recovering from massive losses.
Sharp posted a group net profit of 11.56 billion yen in fiscal 2013 due partly to the favorable impact of restructuring measures including personnel cuts but it is expecting to forgo dividend payments for the third consecutive year in fiscal 2014 as well.
Its share price has been sluggish, hovering in the lower 300 yen level, after the company conducted a public stock offering last year to bolster its financial standing.
Analysts say a Sharp recovery remains uncertain as it has revised downward its profit projection for the current fiscal year through March 2015.
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