Sony Back to Profit on Bravia, Vaio, PS3 Strength

Sony returned to profitability in the second quarter, helped by strong sales of key products, prompting it to raise its profit outlook for the full year on Thursday.

The company reported a net profit of ¥25.7 billion (US$290 million as of June 30, the last day of the period reported), reversing the loss recorded in the same period a year earlier. Sales rose almost 4 percent to ¥1.7 trillion.

Increased sales of Bravia LCD TVs helped lead Sony's consumer products division to a 7 percent jump in sales.

Sony sold a total of 5.1 million Bravia TVs in the quarter, up 60 percent on the same period in 2009. That's good news for Sony because the jump is in line with its ambitious goal of increasing TV sales to 25 million in its current financial year, which ends on March 31.

Sony's second major electronics business unit, its networked products division, "significantly" exceeded expectations with sales up by almost a third due to strong demand for Vaio laptop computers and the PlayStation 3 games console. The business unit remained in the red, although losses fell to about a tenth of year-earlier levels.

Sony sold 1.9 million PCs in the quarter, up from 1.1 million in the same period a year earlier, while PlayStation 3 sales more than doubled to 2.4 million units.

The results mark the third straight quarter of improved profitability at Sony and provide further evidence that a wide-reaching restructuring of the company is beginning to pay off.

Sony CEO Howard Stringer shook up Sony in early 2009 when he appointed new board members with whom he had strong links and assumed direct control of the company's electronics business. The reorganization was intended to improve resource-sharing and foster cooperation across Sony's historically diverse and independent business areas.

As a result of the strong performance in its consumer and networked products segments, Sony revised upwards its profit outlook for the financial year to the end of March 2011. The company now expects a net profit of ¥60 billion, which is a 20 percent increase on its previous estimate and well ahead of the loss it recorded last year. It kept its sales forecast unchanged at ¥7.6 trillion.

Martyn Williams covers Japan and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Martyn on Twitter at @martyn_williams. Martyn's e-mail address is martyn_williams@idg.com

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