Sony Corp. said Wednesday its consolidated net profit for fiscal 2004 surged 85.1 percent to 163.84 billion yen, thanks to a strong performance by its movie unit.

But the electronics giant saw losses at its core consumer electronics business widen after being battered by steeper than expected price falls.

“Tough conditions will continue for fiscal 2005,” Katsumi Ihara, the company’s chief financial officer, told a news conference. “Our electronics division will still be unable to post a profit.”

For the year ended in March, the company’s revenue fell 5 percent to 7.16 trillion yen, due in part to the partial transfer of its music business to Sony BMG Music Entertainment, whose sales were not counted in the report.

During the reporting period, the firm was helped by soaring profits at its movie division, which enjoyed a nearly two-fold jump in operating profit thanks to the blockbuster movie “Spider-Man 2” and sales of “Seinfeld” DVDs.

A strong performance by cell phone venture Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications also drove up earnings.

Sales at the mainstay consumer electronics division edged down 0.4 percent. Sony said it saw an increase in sales of flat-screen TVs, digital cameras, and rear projection TVs but was hurt by weak sales of cathode-ray tube TVs and portable audio players.

Price falls continued to eat into profits in Sony’s consumer electronics division, which logged an operating loss of 34.3 billion yen, compared with 6.8 billion yen a year earlier.

The company said prices of liquid crystal display TVs fell 20 percent to 30 percent in the period, while those of DVD recorders fell about 40 percent.

Profits from its game business fell due to a drop in PlayStation 2 sales and additional costs related to the launch of the PlayStation Portable.

Ihara admitted Wednesday that Sony failed to meet the operating-profit target CEO Nobuyuki Idei set out in the October 2003 business plan.

“Unfortunately, we will not be able to achieve a 10 percent operating-profit margin” in fiscal 2006, he said. New management led by Howard Stringer will review the plan, Ihara said.

NEC rises and falls

NEC Corp. said Wednesday its group pretax profit dropped 28 percent in fiscal 2004 compared with the previous year, due to sluggish demand for chips and mobile phones, but that net profit surged 65.2 percent thanks to profits related to the listing of an affiliate.

Consolidated pretax profit was 115.66 billion yen for the year to March 31, while net profit hit 67.86 billion yen. Overall sales fell 1.1 percent to 4.86 trillion yen.

The listing of Elpida Memory Inc. — an NEC affiliate and Japan’s only maker of dynamic random access memory chips — on the Tokyo Stock Exchange in November helped boost net profit.

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