Sony Returns to Profit, Cuts Full-year Loss Forecast

Sony returned to the black in the last three months of 2009, achieving its first operating profit in five quarters and cutting its forecast loss for the full year.

The company reported an operating profit of ¥146 billion (US$1.5 billion) for the quarter, its highest level in two years, on the back of sales of ¥2.2 trillion [t], up 4 percent from the same period a year earlier. Net profitability returned after three quarters of losses and was ¥79.2 billion [b].

The positive results were helped by a doubling of sales at Sony's financial unit and a 16 percent rise in sales at its movies business over the same period a year earlier.

The company's core electronics business didn't fare as well.

Sales in the consumer products and devices division dropped 11 percent as a result of price competition in the flat-panel TV, gaming-console chip and optical pick-up sectors but the benefits of restructuring helped the business hit an operating profit.

In the networks products group Sony saw a modest rise in sales of 2 percent as Vaio PCs enjoyed higher sales worldwide. The group was hit by lackluster results from its gaming unit, which saw sales of the PlayStation 2 and PlayStation Portable fall.

Sales of the PlayStation 2 dropped to 2.1 million units from 2.5 million units a year earlier while the PlayStation Portable saw a drop to 4.2 million from 5.1 million. The launch of a revised PlayStation 3 pushed sales of the console up to 6.5 million units from 4.5 million and cost improvements in manufacturing of the machine helped offset the drop in sales of the PS2 and PSP.

Sony cut further its loss forecasts for the full year to the end of March and now expects to see a net loss of ¥70 billion. Sony had been expecting to lose ¥95 billion, a figure that was revised down in October from ¥120 billion.

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