Sony shares post biggest daily gain in nine years after upgrading outlook

Thu Feb 5, 2015 5:34am EST
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By Ritsuko Ando

TOKYO (Reuters) - Sony Corp's (6758.T: Quote) shares surged on Thursday to post their biggest daily gain in nine years after the consumer electronics and entertainment group lifted its full-year forecast, raising hopes its restructuring efforts were finally bearing fruit.

Backed by cost cuts and stronger sales of sensors and videogames, Sony on Wednesday trimmed its net loss estimate for the year through end-March and forecast a full-year operating profit instead of a loss.

This was Sony's first upgrade of a forecast since Kazuo Hirai took over as chief executive in 2012 and came after six previous warnings under his watch.

Its shares rose 12 percent to 3,101.5 yen, the highest close since May 2010, after briefly rising 18 percent to 3,269 yen, the maximum allowed for the day. The shares last rose 18 percent in early 2006.

Sony's shares have doubled in value over the past year and are among the top performers on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, although the company is set to book its sixth net loss in seven years.

The results bolstered confidence in Sony's restructuring efforts led by CFO Kenichiro Yoshida, who took the job almost a year ago, said investors and analysts.

After selling its PC business and spinning off its TV operations, Sony is cutting thousands of jobs in its mobile phone business to cope with falling smartphone sales. It is also spending more on image sensors, used in smartphone cameras and emerging as one of the company's strongest product lines.

Investors have also cited expectations that Yoshida was prepared to sell off or shut down operations that fail to turn profitable through costs cuts. They will get an update on Sony's thinking when Hirai presents the company's business strategy on Feb. 18.   Continued...

Sony Corp's Chief Financial Officer Kenichiro Yoshida drinks a glass of water during a news conference in Tokyo February 4, 2015. REUTERS/Yuya Shino