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Japan's Olympus records first-half profit

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TOKYO, Nov 12 AFP

November 12 2012, 10:09PM

Olympus says it has swung back into the black in the first half of its fiscal year, a boost for the camera and medical equipment maker as it looks to move on from an embarrassing accounting scandal.

The company said on Monday its $US100 million ($A96.63 million) half-year profit was partly due to the sale of subsidiaries unrelated to its core business, while the key medical systems unit posted an operating profit.

But it added that it lost money in its camera business because of the strong yen, which makes Japanese exports less competitive, and the growing popularity of camera-equipped smartphones.

Olympus cut its full-year target for digital camera sales to 7.3 million units from 8.2 million.

"Brisk performance in our medical business was the profit driver, offsetting the negative impact of exchange rates," Olympus President Hiroyuki Sasa told a news briefing.

Sasa said "smartphones equipped with cameras have spread globally so that has shrunk the compact camera market", but he added that there was room for growth in the firm's higher-end camera business.

Olympus dominates the global market for endoscopes, which are used for internal medical examinations, with nearly three-quarters of the market.

The Japanese company lost 48.99 billion yen in its previous fiscal year, largely tied to scandal-related expenses.

In March, the company and three former senior executives -- including ex-president Tsuyoshi Kikukawa -- were charged over their role in the scandal, and later pleaded guilty.

The firm initially denied allegations it had used past acquisition deals and outsized consultant fees to hide huge losses, but later admitted wrongdoing.

Olympus shares closed 1.66 per cent lower at 1,244 yen in Tokyo on Monday before the firm's results were made public.

By Kyoko Hasegawa