Weaker yen helps keep Sony on course for profit target

Thu Feb 7, 2013 1:50am EST
 

By Tim Kelly

TOKYO (Reuters) - Sony Corp (6758.T: Quote) stuck with its full-year profit forecast as a weaker yen and asset sales underpinned earnings, offsetting weaker demand for its televisions, game consoles and other devices.

Sony, which is doubling down on consumer electronics in a bid to revive the company, joined domestic rivals Sharp 6753.T and Panasonic (6752.T: Quote) in reporting a quarterly operating profit, although analysts are skeptical the industry can regain its former status.

The maker of PlayStation games and Bravia TVs held its full-year operating profit forecast of 130 billion yen ($1.4 billion), compared with a consensus estimate of 119 billion yen of 19 analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. Sony made a 67 billion yen operating loss in 2011/12.

"If this weak yen rate persists it should provide us with a big upside," said Chief Financial Officer Masaru Kato.

In the three months to December 31, Sony posted 46.4 billion yen in operating profit compared with a 91.7 billion yen loss a year ago. The result came in below the average 72.1 billion yen profit estimated by six analysts.

Japanese firms, once key innovators in consumer electronics, have been overtaken by rivals such as Samsung Electronics (005930.KS: Quote) and Apple Inc (AAPL.O: Quote), and have lost out as consumers flock to smartphones and tablets.

Sony under its latest CEO, Kazuo Hirai, is focusing on mobile phones and tablets, cameras and gaming in a bid to return the company to profit. It is also expanding its medical devices through an investment in endoscope maker Olympus Corp (7733.T: Quote).

Sony cut its November forecast for full-year sales of TV sets from 14.5 million to 13.5 million, but kept its prediction for an 11 percent decline in sales of its PlayStation games console to 16 million.   Continued...

 
The logo of Sony Corp. is seen atop of Sony City Osaki building in Tokyo January 10, 2013. REUTERS/Toru Hanai