Sony narrows loss thanks to PlayStation 4

Japan’s Sony Corp reported a second-quarter operating loss on Friday that was narrower than analysts had estimated, as blockbuster sales of its PlayStation 4 games console reduced the impact of a sluggish smartphone division.

The result – unexpected after Sony took an impairment charge of 176 billion yen ($1.58 billion) on its mobile division – indicates restructuring announced in May by Chief Financial Officer Kenichiro Yoshida is beginning to bear fruit.

Sony’s operating loss reached 85.6 billion yen in July-September, compared with the 164.3 billion yen average estimate of 3 analysts polled by Thomson Reuters. In the same quarter last year, Sony booked a profit of 14.8 billion yen on the sale of assets.

The company posted a net loss of 136 billion yen for the quarter and held its full-year net loss forecast at 230 billion yen.

Sony upped its operating profit forecast for its gaming division by 10 billion yen to 35 billion yen for the year after shifting 3.3 million PlayStation 4 consoles in the second quarter, moving it further ahead of rival Xbox One, made by Microsoft.

Sony also upped its operating profit outlook for its imaging and devices units but said its flagship electronics division had logged an overall operating loss of 137.3 billion yen in the first half. That compared to an operating loss of 245.6 billion yen for the full year ended March 31.

Weighing on electronics was the mobile division, where Sony lowered its smartphone sales outlook to 41 million handsets from 43 million, compared with 39 million last year.

Yoshida, the CFO, said the company would greatly shrink its smartphone business in China, where it has been squeezed by nimble local rivals like Xiaomi, while the incoming chief of the mobile division, Hiroki Totoki, would focus on strengthening carrier relationships after assuming his new post on Nov. 16.

Shares of Sony closed 0.8 percent higher before the earnings announcement, compared with a 4.8 percent rise in the Nikkei benchmark index after the Bank of Japan announced furthering monetary easing.

The easing further dramatically weakened the yen, pushing it down 1.6 percent to beyond 111 against the dollar.

Yoshida said a weaker yen was a negative for Sony as it loses 3 billion yen for every yen the Japanese currency falls against the dollar.

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Sony narrows loss thanks to PlayStation 4