Sony sees 25-fold profit jump by 2018; could exit TVs, phones

Wed Feb 18, 2015 10:30am EST
 
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By Ritsuko Ando

TOKYO (Reuters) - Sony Corp (6758.T: Quote) aims to boost operating profit 25-fold within three years by growing its camera sensors and PlayStation units, its chief executive said, outlining a strategy that could see the company exit the cut-throat TV and smartphone sectors.

CEO Kazuo Hirai said on Wednesday the Japanese consumer electronics firm would no longer pursue sales growth in areas such as smartphones where its has suffered competition from cheaper Asian rivals as well as industry leaders like Apple Inc (AAPL.O: Quote) and Samsung Electronics (005930.KS: Quote).

Sony would instead focus its spending on more profitable businesses such as camera sensors, videogames and entertainment as it seeks to return to growth after forecasting for this financial year its sixth net loss in seven years.

The comments, made just as the Tokyo market was closing, helped Sony's shares SNE.N rise 1.4 percent in New York.

"The strategy starting from the next business year will be about generating profit and investing for growth," Hirai told a briefing, adding that Sony's units would be given greater autonomy to make their own business decisions.

Asked about the TV and mobile phone units, Hirai said he would not "rule out considering an exit strategy", Sony's clearest statement to date about the possibility of selling or finding partners for these struggling units.

Sony is in the midst of a restructuring that has so far seen it sell off its personal computer division and spin off the TV business. It has also axed thousands of jobs.

Sony shares have risen more than 80 percent over the past year as investors applauded the restructuring, which accelerated since Hirai appointed Kenichiro Yoshida as his chief strategy officer in late 2013.   Continued...

 
Sony Corp's President and Chief Executive Officer Kazuo Hirai speaks during its corporate strategy meeting at the company's headquarters in Tokyo February 18, 2015. REUTERS/Issei Kato