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Panasonic's Q2 profit rises 6 pct on automotive demand, beats estimates

TOKYO, Oct 31 (Reuters) - Japan's Panasonic Corp reported a 6 percent increase in second-quarter operating profit on Tuesday, beating analyst estimates, as it began to tap growing demand for electrification from automakers.

The electronics maker said July-September profit rose to 112.7 billion yen ($939.79 million) from 106.3 billion yen a year earlier.

That compared with a Thomson Reuters Starmine SmartEstimate of 96.46 billion yen drawn from the forecasts of 10 analysts. SmartEstimates give greater weight to recent estimates by the more consistently accurate analysts.

Panasonic, the exclusive battery cell supplier for Tesla Inc's electric vehicles, maintained its 335 billion yen operating profit forecast for the year ending March, versus the 346.13 billion yen average of 21 analyst estimates.

The solid results come as Panasonic, the world's largest automotive lithium-ion battery manufacturer, is aggressively expanding battery production capacity globally.

It started mass production of battery cells at Tesla's Gigafactory in Nevada earlier this year and plans to follow suit at a new plant in Dalian, China. It is also adding new production lines in Japan. ($1 = 113.1100 yen) (Reporting by Makiko Yamazaki; Editing by Christopher Cushing)