Japan Disaster Cuts Into Profits Of U.S. Companies Reliant On Overseas Consumers

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JAPAN PROFITS

NEW YORK (Phil Wahba) - The Japan earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis are cutting into the sales and profits of U.S. companies that serve Japanese consumers, from Coca Cola (KO.N) to Coach Inc (COH.N) and 3M (MMM.N).

Japan, the world's third-largest economy, was stagnating economically before the March 11 earthquake, but it remains a major market for many U.S. companies, particularly consumer product makers and store chains.

Coach, known for its fancy leather handbags, gets nearly one-fifth of its sales from Japan. But the aftermath of last month's earthquake and the nuclear disaster which followed could cost it between 2 and 3 cents in profit per share in the current quarter, or roughly 5 percent of Wall Street's profit forecast.

Coke reported results that disappointed Wall Street in part because of lost revenue in Japan, and the soft-drink maker said disruptions to its supply chain are hampering the bottler's ability to produce its beverages in time for the summer.

"Overall, I think the supply chain is still stressed in Japan in terms of being able to supply the market," Coke Chief Executive Muhtar Kent told analysts on a conference call.

Coke said the events could cut earnings per share by another 2 to 4 cents for the rest of the fiscal year. Wall Street is expecting Coke profits of $3.01 per share in the year's three remaining quarters, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Even companies that produce relatively few items sold directly to people in Japan are feeling the impact as Japanese manufacturing output has taken a hit.

Industrial and consumer goods conglomerate 3M Co (MMM.N) has a higher exposure to Japan than most of its industrial peers, with 9 percent of its sales generated there.

3M sells to auto and electronics businesses in Japan that have seen production disruptions since the March disasters.

The maker of Scotch tape, Post-It notes, industrial abrasives and health-care and electronics products, said the Japan crisis cut first-quarter earnings by about 3 cents a share and will reduce full-year profit by 10 cents to 13 cents a share.

Wall Street analysts expect a full-year profit of $6.22 per share.

Delta Air Lines Inc (DAL.N) expects to lose about $75 million in Japanese business in the current quarter.

The reduced profit forecasts on Tuesday from Coach, Coke and 3M echoed those in recent weeks from jeweler Tiffany & Co (TIF.N) and clothing store chain Gap Inc, (GPS.N) which still get the bulk of their Asian sales in Japan even as they eye fast-growing China.

Yet, for all the disruption, the damage has been relatively contained.

"We don't see any long-term damage. In fact our business has rebounded in our full-price locations," Coach CEO Lew Frankfort told Reuters. "We believe Japan will return to normal."

(Additional reporting by Martinne Geller and Nick Zieminski in New York and Karen Jacobs in Atlanta. Editing by Robert MacMillan)

Copyright 2011 Thomson Reuters. Click for Restrictions.

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