Sony sees revenue rise, losses decline as turnaround hopes gain

The company's revenue was up 6.9 percent during the fourth quarter of 2012, and its losses were down significantly.

Don Reisinger
Former CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger
2 min read

Although Sony has watched its troubles mount over the last few years, the company had a strong fourth quarter, leading some to wonder if the worst is behind it.

During the fourth quarter of 2012 (Sony's fiscal third quarter), the company generated $22.4 billion in revenue, representing a 6.9 percent gain over the same period in 2011 (PDF). And although the company still lost $124 million during the period, that was far better than the $1.7 billion it lost in the fourth quarter of 2011.

Sony's improved performance came by way of its mobile products and communications business, which increased revenue by 94.4 percent year over year. Sony's Pictures and Financial Services divisions increased revenue by 30 percent and 21 percent, respectively.

Still, it wasn't all good news. Sony's Game division saw revenue slide by 15 percent during the period. The company's Home Entertainment and Sound business was down 18 percent during that time frame.

Sony's gaming woes might have something to do with the company's aging console, the PlayStation 3. After years on store shelves, game consoles tend to see their sales start to tail off, leaving companies with no choice but to announce a replacement. Sony's console sales hit 6.8 million units in the fourth quarter, down from 7.4 million in the prior-year period.

Later this month, Sony is expected to do just that at a special event. That new console could help boost the Gaming division's revenue if and when it launches later this year.

Sony's biggest concern for the past couple of years, and seemingly its major issue going forward, is its television division. Shareholders have been calling on Sony chief Kazuo Hirai to sell off the television operation, but time and again, he has said that the situation can be turned around. However, during the fourth quarter, Sony sold only 4.2 million LCD sets worldwide. During the same period in 2011, sales were 6 million units.

Still, on a full-year basis, things are looking up for Sony. The company released its full-year forecast for its 2012 fiscal year that ends in late March and said that revenue would be up slightly. It also expects to post a small net profit, unlike the previous year, which saw it generate a massive loss.