Fri, May 11, 2012 - Page 10 News List

Sony registers full-year loss of US$5.7 billion

BACK TO THE BLACK?The firm voiced confidence it would return to profit this year with its improved TV business, but analysts expressed skepticism

AFP, TOKYO

Japanese electronics giant Sony yesterday posted a massive full-year loss of US$5.7 billion, but vowed it would swing back into the black this year as it embarks on a massive restructuring plan.

The ¥456.66 billion loss for the fiscal year to March, its fourth consecutive year in the red, comes after it said last month it would cut about 10,000 jobs and spend nearly US$1 billion on an overhaul its new chief described as “urgent.”

Sales for the year fell 9.6 percent year-on-year to ¥6.49 trillion, while the firm booked an operating loss of ¥67.28 billion.

Sony, which is struggling to stem losses at its television division, said a strong yen and natural disasters were among the main reasons for its disastrous balance sheet.

“Sales decreased ... primarily due to unfavorable foreign exchange rates, the impact of the Great East Japan Earthquake and the floods in Thailand, and deterioration in market conditions in developed countries,” it said in a statement.

The firm has also blamed tough competition and falling prices, particularly in the television segment, for its struggles.

Sony’s chief financial officer Masaru Kato said the company was aiming to make its television business profitable in the current fiscal year ending in March next year, with the firm on course for a net profit of ¥30 billion in the current fiscal year on sales of ¥7.4 trillion.

However, analysts have criticized the turnaround plan as not enough to win back Sony’s reputation as an innovator or vault its foreign rivals.

“Some complex, bad conditions hit the company, including a soaring yen ... But there is a question as to whether Sony should keep the TV division as part of its business,” said Hiroshi Sakai, analyst at SMBC Friend Securities in Tokyo.

Sony’s latest annual loss was lower than the *¥520 billion shortfall it forecast last month, although both figures are significantly higher than the ¥90 billion loss it predicted in November.

Sony’s reforms, aside from jobs cuts, include expanding its PlayStation and online games business, and pushing further into emerging markets and new sectors, such as medical equipment and life sciences.

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