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Japan is not known as a hotbed of manufacturing capacity for non-Japanese high-tech corporations. Damage to the tech sector from last week's 9.0-magnitude earthquake and the tsunami that followed is mostly limited to local giants:
- Sony (NYSE: SNE ) shut down at least seven factories in response to the event,
- Panasonic (NYSE: PC ) is still evaluating the situation, and
- Canon (NYSE: CAJ ) expects some manufacturing plants to stay offline for a month or more.
Even if factories weren't directly damaged, supply chains are disrupted across northern Japan and reliable electric power is hard to come by.
That doesn't mean that Western businesses stayed entirely out of harm's way, of course. Texas Instruments (NYSE: TXN ) generated as much as 10% of its 2010 sales from chips and components made in a facility in Miho, just north of Tokyo.
Recovery and rebuilding the damage in Miho will curtail TI's ability to produce DLP components and analog chips in coming months, and will both lower the company's sales and add to expenses in the current quarter. More detail is forthcoming when TI reports earnings April 18, but the stock has fallen by about 10% in the wake of the quake and the swoon seems to be appropriate in both direction and magnitude.
Fellow American chip giant Intel (Nasdaq: INTC ) wasn't directly hurt by the disaster, has no cleanup bill to foot, and arguably benefits from the event as Japan-based memory-chip makers like Toshiba most definitely are feeling the pain. The same goes for Idaho-based memory specialist Micron Technology (Nasdaq: MU ) ; neither Intel nor Micron was even moved to issue a press release on the situation.
The real story is obviously one of human tragedy and a serious setback for Japan's recently resurgent economy. But the effects on investable stocks are real and not easily ignored. I suggest adding Texas Instruments to your Foolish watchlist in order to keep tabs on its damage control and financial fallout, as well as Sony and Canon to keep a finger on the general Japanese technology pulse. It won't cost you a dime, and more information is always a good thing.