Sony Gaming Division, Sale of Camera Module Unit Help Maintain Profitability

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Sony Corp on Tuesday reported a record first-quarter operating profit on the back of strong sales of gaming software, giving support to the new management’s strategy of focusing on stable sources of revenue.

The electronics firm posted profit of JPY 195.0 billion ($1.75 billion) for April-June, up 23.7 percent from JPY 157.6 billion a year prior. The result compared with the JPY 145.23 billion average of eight analyst estimates compiled by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

With the previous year’s one-time gain of JPY 36.8 billion excluded, Sony logged even sharper first-quarter growth of 61 percent. That gain came from the sale of Sony’s camera module unit and the receipt of insurance payouts for earthquake damage.

When earnings in the year ended March exceeded the previous peak set in 1998, Sony pledged to maintain high profit levels to prove last year’s record profit was not a one-off.

To that end, Sony has been expanding businesses that promise stable revenue streams, such as online gaming services and music content libraries, while minimising the impact of the volatile sales cycles of game consoles and other electronic gadgets.

Under that strategy, the gaming business saw profit increase to JPY 83.5 billion in the three months ended June from JPY 17.7 billion a year earlier, as high-margin online software and new first-party titles such as “God of War” and “Detroit: Become Human” compensated for slowing sales of PlayStation 4 consoles.

Analysts said the game “Marvel’s Spider-Man”, to be launched in September on PlayStation 4, could further lift gaming profit.

Sony’s semiconductor division, which includes imaging sensors, posted profit of JPY 29.1 billion, down from JPY 55.4 billion a year earlier when earnings were boosted by the camera module business sale and insurance payouts.

The electronics maker sees sensors as a pillar of growth in the medium and long term, as applications are likely to expand to depth sensing, surveillance, factory automation and automobiles.

Sony lifted its annual profit outlook for the gaming business and semiconductor business by JPY 60 billion and JPY 20 billion, respectively.

It kept its profit forecast for the year ending March at JPY 670 billion, down 8.8 percent on year, citing various potential risks including competition in smartphones. That compared with the JPY 754.66 billion average of 24 analyst estimates.

Ahead of the stronger-than-expected first-quarter results, many analysts said the full-year outlook was too conservative.

© Thomson Reuters 2018

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