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Sony reverses losses on the back of mobile growth

It logs a slight profit even as the majority of its businesses, from Sony Pictures to the gaming operations, suffer a disappointing quarter.

Sony CEO Kazuo Hirai showing off his company's mobile wares.
Sony CEO Kazuo Hirai showing off his company's mobile wares. Stephen Shankland/CNET

Sony had a somewhat strong fiscal first quarter in the period ended June 30, but it's clear more work needs to be done.

The company on Thursday posted its earnings for the quarter, revealing that it generated $17.3 billion in revenue, a jump of 13 percent compared to the same period last year. It also recorded a $35 million profit, compared with a small net loss for the same period last year.

Sony's slight profit comes as the majority of its businesses suffered a disappointing quarter. Everything from Sony's Pictures business to its gaming operation saw their operating profits slip during the period. The one shining light amid the trouble was Sony's Mobile Products and Communications operation, which turned last year's 28.1 billion yen loss into a 5.9 billion yen profit. Revenue was up 36 percent.

Sony's gaming division was especially troubled in the company's first fiscal quarter, as its net loss widened from 3.5 billion yen last year to 14.8 billion yen last quarter. That decline was due mainly to softening demand for the company's core gaming products, including its consoles and portable systems. During the quarter, Sony sold 1.1 million consoles and 600,000 portable-gaming devices. Software sales, however, were up from 43 million units last year to 64 million this year.

Turning to Sony's mobile division, the company was able to sell 9.6 million smartphones during the period, up from 7.4 million units last year. Sony expects to sell 42 million smartphones during this fiscal year, up from the 33 million it sold last year.

One other important note: Sony's ailing television operation, which many shareholders have said should be sold off, is expected to see unit sales jump from 13.5 million in the last fiscal year to 16 million this time around.