Nidec chief sees opportunity amid coronavirus uncertainty

Linda J. Dodson

TOKYO — While the coronavirus pandemic has brought painful uncertainty for many business leaders, Nidec Chairman and CEO Shigenobu Nagamori sees a silver lining in the crisis.

“The coronavirus has brought tough times, but it also brings opportunity,” the head of the Japanese electric motor maker said in an online results briefing on Thursday. “We will continue to supply what our competitors cannot and further expand our market share.”

The world’s largest motor manufacturer reported record sales of 1.53 trillion yen ($14.35 billion) for the year through March, up 4%, though profit fell 45% on the year to 60 billion yen.

With no clear end in sight to the pandemic, Nagamori said he is bracing for a long fight. “I think the spread of coronavirus will last at least a year. But it’s not good if you are too afraid to do anything. You need to go forward with the coronavirus,” said Nagamori.

One way Nidec is doing that is through capital investment. Nagamori said the price of many types of factory equipment has fallen amid the pandemic, which has given the company the chance to plow more money into growing sectors.

Additionally, rising demand for 5G-related motor parts and traction motors for electric vehicles will serve as a new growth engine in the coronavirus era, Nagamori said, adding that he believes these segments will become a new growth engine for the company.

“Some say that gasoline-powered cars will become popular again given the current cheap gasoline prices, but I believe shift to electric vehicles will not change,” Nagamori stressed.

Nidec is aiming for 10 trillion yen ($93.5 billion) in consolidated sales in fiscal 2030. To that end, Nagamori — who is known for his appetite for mergers and acquisitions — has closed numerous deals at home and abroad. The most recent ones were with Omron Automotive Electronics and compressor manufacturer Embraco last year.

Nagamori made it clear that his appetite for M&A has not disappeared, saying the company will “continue to buy good companies if necessary,” despite the global crisis.

And while many other companies are refraining from offering financial forecasts due to coronavirus-related uncertainty, Nidec gave a bullish outlook for the year ahead. It expects consolidated net profit for fiscal 2021, which ends next March, will increase 66% to 100 billion yen, despite sales falling 2.3% to 1.5 trillion yen.

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