Commenting on its year-end figures, Canon Inc said the record out-turn for 1996 drew on the strength of the global boom in personal computers and the weaker yen. The company expects the good news to continue this year, and it is forecasting that continued strong sales of printers will help propel group net profits through the $800m mark. Computer peripherals such as bubble-jet printers and laser printers will remain brisk, helping push up sales, Canon said, adding that last year’s introduction of new bubble-jet models boosted sales of printers for the home, while office laser printers also saw brisk sales. Once a camera maker with one or two appendages, Canon last year saw its office equipment division rise 17.4% to $16.9bn or more than 80% of total group sales. The weaker yen rate raised our pre-tax profit estimate for this year by $129m, it said. Canon president Fujio Mitarai told Reuters that his company should be able to expand its group sales to $32bn in 2000 if the yen does not surge back to around 110 to the dollar – but when the yen was just 80 to the dollar and causing extreme anguish in Tokyo, Apple Computer Inc forecast that its long-term rate was likely to be around 50 yen to the dollar, so 110 is a very optimistic level to hope for. At present, Hewlett-Packard Co holds about half of the world’s ink- jet printer market, followed by Canon’s 30%. Canon says that its target is to become number one.