Japan’s Fanuc Ramps up Production

Monday, Feb 16, 2015

Fanuc Corp., a Japanese maker of industrial robots and machine tools used in the making of Apple Inc. ’s iPhones and other smartphones, said Monday it plans to spend about ¥100 billion ($842 million) to build new factories in Japan.

The move follows news last week that New York-based hedge fund investor Daniel Loeb had acquired a stake in Fanuc. Mr. Loeb, in a letter to investors, wrote that “Fanuc reminds us of Apple in its product approach” but called on the company to buy back shares in order to put some of its $8.5 billion in cash to work for investors.

Fanuc, a secretive company based at the foot of Mount Fuji, is one of a number of Japanese parts, materials and machine tool companies that are quietly thriving as the country’s better-known electronics giants struggle. Increasing investment in domestic manufacturing is a major goal of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe ’s economic policy.

Fanuc said the new factories would be located in Tochigi prefecture, north of Tokyo, and would make computer-controlled cutting machines, servo motors and servo amplifiers. Production start is slated for October 2016.

Fanuc in September sharply upgraded its earnings outlook for the fiscal year ending March 31. Analysts cited strong sales of machine tools for smartphone assembly plants in China as a big reason.

In early trading on the Tokyo Stock Exchange Monday, news of the plan to expand production helped Fanuc’s share price rise 4% to a fresh year-high.


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