Fri, Feb 04, 2011 - Page 5 News List

Sony Q3 profit falls 8.6% on strong yen

LOSING LUSTER:Since pioneering music on the go with its Walkman in the 1980s, Sony has been losing ground to flashier and more efficient rivals including Apple


Sony’s quarterly profit dropped 8.6 percent as a strong yen and falling TV prices erased the boost the Japanese electronics and entertainment company got from its hit movie The Social Network.

Tokyo-based Sony Corp said yesterday it earned ¥72.33 billion (US$886.4 million) in profit for the October-December quarter, down from ¥79.17 billion the year before. Quarterly sales fell 1.4 percent to ¥2.206 trillion.

Sony in recent years has lost much of its luster — once symbolized in its Walkman portable music player that pioneered personal music on the go in the 1980s, catapulting the Japanese company into a household name around the world.

Nowadays it is struggling against flashier and more efficient rivals including Apple Inc of the US with its iPhone, iPod and iPad machines, as well as South Korea’s Samsung Electronics Co, from which Sony purchases liquid-crystal displays, a key component in flat-panel TVs.

Sony, which makes the Vaio personal computer and PlayStation 3 video game console, stuck to its forecast for a profit of ¥70 billion in the year through March. That would mark a reversal from the red ink racked up a year earlier.

However, Sony lowered its annual sales forecast to ¥7.2 trillion from the ¥7.4 trillion projected in October. That would be flat compared with the previous year ended March last year.

Punishing its bottom line for the third quarter was the strong yen, which hurts Japanese exporters like Sony by pushing down the value of overseas earnings. The US dollar now trades at about ¥83, down from ¥89 a year ago.

Sony’s flat-panel TV sales were up in unit numbers but lower prices hurt profits, Sony said.

On the positive side were strong sales of Blu-ray disc recorders and the box office performance of The Social Network, a David Fincher-directed film based on the story of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.

Meanwhile, Softbank Corp, Japan’s exclusive iPhone carrier, said yesterday its net profit nearly tripled to ¥65.46 billion during the October-December period. That is up from ¥24.11 billion a year earlier.

The Tokyo-based Internet and mobile conglomerate said sales rose 13 percent to ¥784.9 billion. Operating profit rose 23 percent to ¥166.6 billion.

The company said new mobile contracts soared from the same period a year earlier, due to continued strong demand for Apple’s iPhone.

Separately, Sharp Corp, Japan’s largest maker of LCDs, posted net income of ¥21.8 billion in the nine months ended Dec. 31, compared with a loss of ¥8.6 billion a year earlier, the Osaka-based company said in a statement yesterday.

Sharp kept its full-year earnings forecasts unchanged.

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