Sony Corp. (6758)
unexpectedly forecast an annual loss, the sixth in seven years, casting further doubt on Chief Executive Officer Kazuo Hirai
’s ability to revive the company.
The net loss will probably be 50 billion yen ($490 million) in the 12 months ending March 31, the Tokyo-based company said in a statement today. That compares with the 57.1 billion-yen profit average of 19 estimates compiled by Bloomberg and a 128.4 billion-yen net loss the year earlier.
Hirai, who cut last year’s net-income forecast three times, is trying to overcome slumping demand for the TVs and personal computers that underpinned Sony’s rise into a Japanese icon. The company, which is cutting 5,000 more jobs and selling assets as it tries to find new hits to build on successes with the PlayStation 4 game console, expects 135 billion yen of costs related to restructuring and exiting the PC business this year.
“The loss can be greater than the estimate if their TVs and games don’t sell well,” said Makoto Kikuchi, Tokyo-based chief executive officer for Myojo Asset Management Co. “The company should withdraw from unprofitable businesses, like TV.”
Sony rose 1.1 percent to close at 1,805 yen in Tokyo before the announcement, narrowing its loss this year to 1.2 percent. Japan’s benchmark Topix stock index gained 0.4 percent today.
Operating profit, or sales minus the cost of goods sold and administrative expenses, will probably be 140 billion yen this year, the company said. That compares with the 231.8 billion-yen average of 21 estimates compiled by Bloomberg and a 26.5 billion-yen profit a year earlier. The company is forecasting annual sales of 7.8 trillion yen.
Losses from the PC business including restructuring are forecast to be about 80 billion yen, the company said. Sony has previously agreed to sell its PC business, which produces notebooks under the Vaio brand, to buyout firm Japan Industrial Partners Inc.
When Hirai took over as CEO in 2012, he said Sony’s revival would be driven by games, imaging products and mobile devices. Since then, the company has announced job cuts, an agreement to exit PCs and a restructuring to make TV manufacturing a separate unit. Hirai has trimmed the TV product lineup to focus on larger-screen models.
Sony also sold its Gracenote audio-recognition software business to Tribune Co., as well as stakes in Japanese satellite broadcaster SKY Perfect JSAT Holdings Inc. and gamemaker Square Enix Holdings Co.
The 53-year-old Hirai also pledged to make Sony’s TV manufacturing unit profitable, a business that has now lost more than 700 billion yen over the past 10 years.
Sony expects sales this year of 16 million LCD TV sets, 8 million cameras, 17 million game consoles and 50 million smartphones, it said today.
“The Amazing Spider-Man 2,” the biggest release this year for Sony Pictures, has generated more than $146 million in U.S. box-office receipts in two weeks, though it was ousted from the top spot after just one week, according to researcher Rentrak Corp. Sony has additional sequels set for 2016 and 2018.
Sales of the PS4 surpassed 7 million consoles as of April 6, the company said last month. The game machine has outpaced Microsoft Corp.’s Xbox One, which had sold more than 5 million units.
Company executives will return their bonuses for the year ended March, Yo Kikuchi, a spokeswoman for Sony said yesterday. The company also nominated four new external board directors, whose appointments are subject to approval in June.
Sony controlled 3.8 percent of global smartphone sales in 2013, according to data compiled by Bloomberg from IDC. That ranked the company sixth in the world and compares with about 31 percent for South Korea’s Samsung Electronics Co.
The company’s film unit has rebounded from a loss in the September quarter after “White House Down” flopped at the box office. Sony has found success with “American Hustle” and “The Monuments Men,” and its studios ranked second in the U.S. in the year through May 11 with about $535.7 million of gross receipts, according to Boxofficemojo.com.
The company is also testing an Internet-based pay-television service in the U.S. this year, bringing live and on-demand programming to TVs and its PlayStation consoles.
One of Sony’s successful products has been complementary metal-oxide semiconductors, known as CMOS sensors, that act as digital eyes in smartphones and cameras made by Apple Inc. and Samsung.
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Japanese electronics giant Sony forecasts it will remain unprofitable until 2015 after a restructuring saw it exit the PC business.
It also swung to a loss of 125bn yen for the 12 months to 31 March.
The results put pressure on chief executive Kazuo Hirai, who pledged two years ago to return its underperforming electronics business to profit.
The firm has been struggling to turn around its electronics unit, which has suffered from rising competition from Asian rivals such as Samsung Electronics.
Sony expects sales this coming year to be "flat" and plans to spend 135bn yen on a major restructuring.
The company had issued three profit warnings in the run-up to its results, as well as announcing 5,000 job cuts earlier this year.