Sony records its first net profit in five years

The electronics giant swings to a profit on sale of assets while demand continues to deteriorate for products in its core electronics business.

Sony Super Slim PlayStation 3

Sony returned to the black for the first time in five years, thanks largely to one-time gains from the sale of assets rather than its core consumer electronics products.

The Japanese electronics giant on Thursday reported a net profit of $458 million in the 2012 financial year ending March 31 compared with a loss of $5.7 billion the year earlier (PDF). It also recorded an operating profit of $2.45 billion in 2012 compared with a loss of $820 million last year.

The company recorded $72 million in sales, a meager increase of 4.7 percent over the previous year attributable to its takeover of Sony Ericsson, favorable foreign exchange rates, and increased financial services revenue.

The return to profitability came despite continued deterioration in Sony's core electronics business, including falling demand for digital cameras, gaming consoles, and personal computers. Helping the company achieve profitability targets were the sale of assets such as its U.S. headquarters building in New York, Tokyo office buildings, and a portion of its stake in online medical-service provider M3.

Sony expects its recovery to continue, projecting a $505 million profit for the 2013 fiscal year, a 16 percent increase.

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