Updated from 2:41 a.m. EST



plans to reduce 15,000 jobs worldwide, about 5% of its work force, by the end of March 2010 and announced it would record a 380 billion yen loss for the fiscal year ending March 2009, its first yearly net loss in six years.

Half of the job cuts will be overseas, while the other half will be in Japan, the Japanese electronics maker said. It is also shuttering 14 overseas plants and 13 plants in Japan to adjust production and cut costs.

The company reported a third-quarter loss of 63.1 billion yen ($709 million) compared with year-earlier profits of 115.2 billion yen as sales declined because of a downturn in consumer spending, higher raw materials costs and a stronger yen.

Operating profit in the quarter fell 84% to 26.4 billion yen, down from 165.4 billion yen a year earlier.

Panasonic lowered its fiscal 2009 revenue forecast to 7.75 trillion yen from a previous forecast of 8.5 trillion yen, while the company now expects to report a loss of 380 billion yen, down from the previous forecast of a profit of 30 billion yen.

Quarterly sales dropped 20% to 1.880 trillion yen from 2.345 trillion, with overseas sales decreasing 29%, and Japanese sales down 10%.

The company blamed a global slowdown set off by the U.S. financial crisis, the rapid surge of the yen and sudden price drops for the dismal results. Sales slid in a wide range of products, including flat-panel TVs, DVD recorders, microwaves, lamps and semiconductors, Panasonic said.

"The company's business conditions have worsened particularly since last October, due mainly to the rapid appreciation of the yen, sluggish consumer spending worldwide and ever intensified price competition," Panasonic said in a statement.

The last time Panasonic reported a loss was for the fiscal year ended March 2002, when a global electronics slump and massive restructuring costs contributed to 431 billion yen in red ink.

Since then, the company has been shedding money-losing businesses and focusing on key products such as plasma display TVs to turn itself around.

Japan's other export-reliant electronics makers are also seeing their profitability sorely hurt, including Panasonic's longtime rival


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