TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan's Toshiba Corp forecast a 34 percent jump in operating profit for this fiscal year, boosted by strong sales of its flash memory chips, but the outlook fell short of market expectations as it struggles to turn around its TV division.
Toshiba, a leading chipmaker in Japan and supplier to Apple Inc, said on Wednesday it expects its operating profit to reach 260 billion yen ($2.6 billion) for the year ending March 31, 2014, missing the average forecast of 345.7 billion yen profit among 21 analysts polled by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Toshiba Corporate Executive Vice President Makoto Kubo told reporters that the company had set a conservative estimate for this business year based on uncertainty in TV and computer markets, as well as risks related to its memory chip sales in the second half of the year.
Last month, SanDisk Corp raised its revenue forecast for this year and said it expects NAND memory chips to fetch higher prices.
For the year that ended in March, Toshiba logged an operating profit of 194.3 billion yen, down 4.1 percent from the previous year and undershooting its January guidance of 260 billion yen and an average 251.80 billion yen profit expected by 21 analysts polled by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
The No. 2 maker of NAND flash memory chips after Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, which also competes against Hitachi Ltd in nuclear reactors, blamed the weak performance on a 24.4 billion yen operating loss in its digital products division, which makes televisions and personal computers.
The TV division alone accounted for 50 billion yen in losses in 2012/13.
Shares in Toshiba, a $22 billion firm that employs more than 200,000 people worldwide and is one of Japan's biggest exporters, have rallied 52 percent since the beginning of the year, compared with a 37 percent rise on Tokyo's benchmark Nikkei average. ($1 = 99.0750 Japanese yen)
(Reporting by Mari Saito; Editing by Daniel Magnowski)