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Sony pares losses, on track for yearly profit

AFP-JIJI, Bloomberg

Sony Corp. said Thursday that its net loss from April to December shrank 75 percent from the same period last year and that it remains on track to achieve a full-year profit.

The firm lost ¥50.87 billion in the nine months, compared with a loss of ¥201.45 billion in the same period a year earlier, while it expects to book a ¥20 billion net profit in the year to March.

Japan’s biggest consumer electronics exporter has lost market share as it struggles to develop products able to compete with Apple iPads and Samsung Galaxy smartphones.

A weaker yen, which boosted earnings at rivals Panasonic Corp. and Sharp Corp., also failed to help Sony withstand a slump in global TV sales.

“Nothing substantial has really changed in Sony’s businesses,” Keita Wakabayashi, an analyst at Mito Securities Co., said before the announcement. “TV is no longer a cash cow, and the outlook for Japanese consumer electronics makers remains tough.”

The results showed the firm also returned to profitability on the operating side from a year earlier. The nine-month operating profit was ¥82.96 billion, reversing a year-earlier operating loss of ¥65.86 billion, Sony said.

Sales rose 3.6 percent to ¥5.07 trillion thanks to strong demand for mobile products and movies, offsetting falling sales of liquid crystal display TVs and in the key games unit, the company said.

Last month, Sony said it was selling its U.S. headquarters in Manhattan for about $1.1 billion as part of a huge restructuring, with separate reports saying it may also unload one of its main buildings in Tokyo that accommodates the company’s struggling television division.

The New York sale, expected to close in March, comes as the once-iconic company aims for a return to profitability after four years in the red.

Last year, Sony’s hard times saw its stock value tumble below ¥1,000 a share for the first time since the era of the Walkman. The shares have since come back, closing 2.56 percent higher at ¥1,519 on Thursday.