Nikkei slips after industry bellwether Yaskawa earnings fail to inspire

TOKYO, April 12 (Reuters) - Japanese shares fell on Monday, dragged down by a sharp drop in Yaskawa Electric after the industry bellwether’s earnings failed to meet the market’s high expectations.

Nikkei average fell 0.18% to 29,715.17. It has been in a holding pattern after hitting a 30-and-a-half-year high in mid-February, with a break of either its March 18 high of 30,485 or March 24 low of 28,379 seen as needed for a new trend to emerge.

The broader Topix was up 0.08% at 1,961.13.

Yaskawa Electric, a robot maker seen as a leading indicator on Japanese manufacturers’ earnings trend, dropped 6.3% after its earnings in the quarter to February fell short of investors’ strong expectations.

The company said it expects 54.5% increase in its operating profits to 42 billion yen ($383.67 million) in the current financial year, almost in line with analysts’ forecast of 43 billion yen.

“Markets’ expectations (on Yaskawa) had risen a bit too much before the actual announcement, a familiar pattern with Japanese earnings. It makes you wonder what to do as the earning season is about to begin,” said Masato Kogure, group leader of execution at Tokai Tokyo Securities.

Aeon lost 5.1%, after the supermarket chain operator’s quarterly earnings disappointed investors.

More retailers will release their earnings this week while the country’s top companies’ results will start later this month.

Toshiba rose 6.1% after he Nikkei financial daily said late Friday state-backed Japan Investment Corp (JIC) and the Development Bank of Japan (DBJ) would join $20 billion takeover bid by CVC Capital Partners.

Toshiba chairman said CVC’s offer to take the company private was contingent on various regulatory approval.

Small golf shaft maker Graphite Design jumped 16.6%, after Hideki Matsuyama become the first Japanese man to win a major championship with a Masters victory at Augusta National.

Golf-related service firm Value Golf gained 10.8%.

$1 = 109.4700 yen Reporting by Hideyuki Sano; Editing by Rashmi Aich