Spider-Man blockbuster, PlayStation, smartphones boost Sony’s profits to highest level in 10 years
By Miwa SUZUKI
Sony said Tuesday it expects to book record annual profits as it pushes on with a turnaround driven by the PlayStation games division and a booming smartphone parts business while it also scored a hit with the newest Spider-Man movie.
The once-ailing electronics giant and PlayStation console maker is eyeing a net profit of 380 billion yen ($3.4 billion) for the fiscal year to March 2018, compared to the previous 369.4 billion yen record a decade ago.
It also expects operating profit to be a highest-ever 630 billion yen, beating a record set two decades ago.
Net profit for the latest quarter to September was more than 27 times higher than a year earlier, while revenue expanded by 22 percent.
Operating profit jumped more than fourfold in the latest period, partly due to a rebound after deadly quakes in southern Japan hit production last year.
The Tokyo-based company cited improved results in its semiconductor business, which includes image sensors found in smartphone cameras.
The results marked a comeback for the electronics and entertainment giant, which has struggled with huge losses in recent years.
To try to stop the bleeding, Sony has cut thousands of jobs and sold assets, including its Vaio laptop unit and a US headquarters in Manhattan.
Sony took a nearly $1 billion writedown at its movie unit last year following several box office disappointments, including the reboot of the Eighties classic “Ghostbusters” with an all-female cast and “Inferno”, a sequel to “The Da Vinci Code”.
– Spidey sense –
But Sony said things were looking up at the movie division.
“Motion pictures sales increased significantly due to the strong worldwide theatrical performance of ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’,” the firm said in a statement.
Profitability in televisions and other home appliances also improved as the group shifted to higher-end models, while revenue from financial services jumped due partly to better investment returns.
A cheaper yen is also expected to contribute to Sony’s revenue.
“Overall, Sony is on course for strong recovery,” said Yasuo Imanaka, an analyst at Rakuten Securities in Tokyo.
But he said its strong games division, including the top-selling PlayStation console, could be cooling off in the face of stiff competition from domestic rival Nintendo and its newest Switch console.
“The games sector had long been the company’s earnings driver but the momentum is slowing partly because of the strong impact of Nintendo Switch,” Imanaka told AFP.
“We are also focusing on how the movie business recovers, which would offset any downturn in its games unit.”
Sony’s results came the day after Nintendo nearly doubled its full-year profit forecast on sizzling sales of the Switch console and a cheaper yen, which tends to inflate Japanese exporters’ profits.
Switch is a tablet-like hybrid system that can be played at home and on the go.
Nintendo is positioning itself for the year-end holiday shopping season with the hot-selling console.