The PS3 and Vaio PCs helped the consumer electronics maker to a strong quarter and an improved forecast for its full fiscal year.
Lance WhitneyContributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Thanks to intensive cost cuts, and buoyed by sales of Vaio PCs and PlayStation 3 game consoles, Sony's quarterly results are back in the black.
After four straight quarterly losses, the company rebounded in the third quarter of its fiscal 2009. Net income jumped 660 percent to 79.2 billion yen ($871 million), compared with 10.4 billion yen in 2008's third quarter, Sony reported Thursday.
Sales for the quarter ended December 31 rose 3.9 percent to 2.24 trillion yen ($24.6 billion) versus 2.15 trillion yen in the year-ago quarter.
Stung by weak consumer demand and strong competition, Sony had been forced to slash expenses over the past year. The company has closed down factories and laid off a huge number of workers in an attempt to return to profitability, a strategy that is now starting to pay off.
But stronger operating results in virtually all of Sony's businesses also boosted third-quarter results.
Though sales fell 10 percent in the consumer electronics division, operating income reached 49 billion yen, versus a loss of 19 billion yen in 2008's third quarter. Sales were down for Sony's Bravia LCD TVs due to continued price competition. But costs cuts in this division helped it return to profitability.
The Networked Products and Services business, which includes computers and the PlayStation game consoles, saw a 1.9 percent gain in sales to 606 billion yen and an operating profit of 19.4 billion yen, versus a loss of 5.9 billion yen in the year-ago quarter. Sales for Sony's Vaio PCs were up. Sales for the PlayStation 2 and PlayStation Portable were down, but profits rose thanks to lower manufacturing costs for the PS3 consoles.
In the December quarter, Sony sold approximately 6.5 million PS3 units, compared with 4.5 million in the year-earlier quarter.
Sony's entertainment segments also enjoyed growth, with healthy sales and operating profits for the music, movie, and TV business.
Overall, third-quarter sales and earnings surpassed expectations, prompting Sony to up its forecast for the full year. The company now expects to lose 70 billion yen for fiscal 2009 compared with its prior estimate of a 95 billion yen deficit. Sales are still likely to reach 7.3 trillion yen for the year, about 6 percent lower than in 2008.