Sony posts record $6b loss

Sony Corp has racked up a record annual loss of Y457 billion ($A5.73 billion) in its fourth straight year of red ink as the once-glorious maker of the Walkman and PlayStation struggles towards a turnaround under a new president.

The electronics and entertainment company, which also makes Spider-Man movies, reported on Thursday a loss of Y255 billion for the January-March period – its fifth straight quarterly net loss to round out a fiscal year that was the worst in its 66-year corporate history.

The latest red ink was worse than 1995, which followed Sony’s ambitious but disastrous purchase of Hollywood studio Columbia Pictures.

Sony’s recent troubles were worsened by factory and supplier damage in northeastern Japan, ravaged by the earthquake and tsunami last year. Sony also suffered production disruptions from the flooding in Thailand.

Quarterly sales inched up 1.2 per cent on-year to Y1.6 trillion. Annual sales plunged nearly 10 per cent to Y6.5 trillion, as unit sales slipped in flat-panel TVs, video and digital cameras, game machines and personal computers.

Sony has bled money for eight straight years in its core television business, bashed by competition from Samsung Electronics Co of South Korea and other Asian rivals.

And consumers are flocking to products from Apple Inc like the iPhone and iPad instead of Sony gadgets.

A soaring yen that erodes the overseas earnings of Japanese exporters like Sony has also added to the damage.

Sony is aiming for a comeback under Kazuo Hirai, appointed president last month, who has headed the gaming division and built his career in the US.

Sony forecast a return to profit for the fiscal year through March 2013 at Y30 billion, banking on the growing smartphone and tablet business, as well as a recovery from last year’s disasters.

Last month, Hirai said the company will cut 10,000 jobs, or about six per cent of its global work force, and turn a profit in TVs in the next two years. The job cuts come on top of a couple of rounds under Hirai’s predecessor, Welsh-born Howard Stringer, who remains chairman and was the first foreigner to head Sony.

Sony had recorded a Y260 billion loss the previous fiscal year.

The latest results were better than the Y520 billion annual loss the Tokyo-based company had projected. Analysts surveyed by FactSet had estimated a more optimistic Y430 billion.

Sony shares, which have lost about half their value over the past year, dipped 1.2 per cent to Y1,213 in Tokyo. Trading ended shortly before earnings were announced.


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