Chief Executive Hiroshi Suzuki intends Hoya's Pentax unit to return to profitability in the current business year ending March 2010, according to an interview with Reuters' Kiyoshi Takenaka and Reiji Murai. In the previous year through March 2009, Pentax posted an operating loss of some ¥11.6 billion, roughly equivalent to US$122.3 million. As well as digital and film cameras and lenses for a variety of uses, Pentax products include surveying instruments, endoscopes and ceramics.
The Reuters article goes on to quote Hoya's Suzuki-san as suggesting that an alliance with another company will be needed to sustain Pentax's digital camera business in the long term. Some 2.3 million Pentax-branded digital cameras were sold last year, a little less than ten percent of the unit sales reported by Canon Inc. over the same period. Since October 2005, Pentax has had an agreement with Korean consumer electronics giant Samsung to cooperate on digital SLR development, and it isn't immediately clear whether Suzuki-san's statement suggests interest in strengthening that relationship, or whether a new partner may be in Pentax's future.
Since the agreement was signed, certain Pentax digital SLRs such as the K20D and the recently-announced K-7 have featured Samsung-produced CMOS image sensors, and Samsung has in turn has released variants of several Pentax DSLRs under its own brand name. The agreement doesn't extend to the ultra-competitive compact camera market, however, and while Samsung released three Pentax-derived digital SLRs in 2006, the only subsequent Samsung DSLR announcement was the GX-20 some 19 months ago. Pentax likewise doesn't seem to have been involved with Samsung's intriguing NX series, which is set to feature APS-C sized image sensors in hybrid interchangeable-lens camera bodies - an offering not unlike Olympus and Panasonic's popular Micro Four Thirds format.
More details from Reuters' interview with Suzuki-san and its implications for Pentax can be found on the Reuters website.