Sony's fiscal picture brightens a bit

Despite declining sales, the electronics giant says its losses slimmed during its second quarter with sales boosted in part by its still-new mobile division.

Fiscal second-quarter earnings for Sony show a less-bleak picture than expected. After losing $5.7 billion last year and $312 million in the first quarter, the Tokyo-based technology giant is starting to slowly recover. 

Sony recorded an operating profit of $388 million, compared to a $20 million loss in the same quarter a year ago. On the whole, it's an improvement but Sony still has a long way to go before it reaches anything close to "healthy" status.

Net income before taxes stood at $252 million, with an operating profit of $388 million. However, Sony lost $198 million on revenue of $20.5 billion, after sales increased by 1.9 percent year-on-year.

Completing the company's sale of its chemical business helped Sony during the second quarter, while other asset sales may further boost its operating profit for the fiscal year.

The technology giant's mobile division, born out of the split-up between Sony and Ericsson almost exactly a year ago, carried the quarter. Sales increased in the mobile phone unit by more than double year over year, generating $3.85 billion in sales. The division, which also includes PC sales, generated an operating loss of $296 million as a result of poor consumer demand, but also as a result of the consolidation of the new Sony Mobile unit as a separate, wholly owned subsidiary. 

Sony's imaging unit revenue brought in $2.3 billion but sales decreased 16 percent year over year, while the division's operating income decreased to $33 million. The firm said digital camera sales were down as a result of an increase in uptake on camera-enabled smartphones.

The gaming unit brought in $1.8 billion, but saw a 16 percent decrease in sales due to lower sales of hardware and software for the firm's gaming consoles. Operating income decreased to $29 million.

The home entertainment division took a major beating on the sales front, a decrease of 25 percent year over year, but brought in $3 billion in sales. However, the television and audio equipment unit made a $203 million operating loss due to reductions in LCD panels, and a sharp decrease in television sales, down by 31 percent.

Sony's chip plants turned a profit of $382 million, compared to $230 million in the same quarter a year ago. 

The company is projecting a modest drop in revenue for the whole of the fiscal year, ending March 2013, down to $83 billion from $85 billion compared to its earlier August forecast. The firm said its operating income projections stand at $1.6 billion as a result of new products and recent acquisitions.

This story originally appeared at ZDNet's Between the Lines under the headline "Sony cuts Q2 losses, boosted by mobile unit."

 

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