Tokyo: Sony said Thursday it booked a $1.1 billion loss for its latest fiscal year, but the struggling electronics giant expects a profit in the next 12 months as it embarks on an overhaul.
The latest loss for Sony comes as the once world-leading firm continues with a painful restructuring that has included layoffs and asset sales, as it races to rescue its battered balance sheet.
Boss Kazuo Hirai, a company veteran tapped to turn the firm around, has said he would keep splitting the business into self-operating units in a bid to return to profitability.
Sony said its net loss for the year to March was 126 billion yen ($1.1 billion), a slight improvement on the 128.4 billion yen loss a year ago, as it absorbs big restructuring costs.
It was also much lower than the 170 billion yen forecast by the company in February, which was itself a reduction from it earlier 230 billion yen estimated shortfall.
On Thursday, the electronics-entertainment conglomerate posted an operating profit of 68.5 billion yen, more than double the previous year, on sales of 8.21 trillion yen, a 5.8 per cent increase.
Strong sales of the PlayStation 4 games console and electronic devices, including image sensors used in cameras, helped drive revenue, while a weaker yen — which lifts the value of repatriated overseas income — also boosted results, it said.
Sony said a long-suffering television unit was showing signs of improvement.
“This improvement was primarily due to cost reductions and an improvement in product mix reflecting a shift to high value-added models,” it said in a statement.
Critics have called on Sony to dump televisions altogether but Hirai flatly refused, saying they were an integral part of the company.
Sony has struggled in the consumer electronics business that built its global brand, including losing billions of dollars in televisions over the past decade as it faced fierce competition from lower-cost rivals in South Korea and Taiwan.
However, Hirai did move the firm out of the laptop sector and cut down its smartphone division, turning the focus to a stronger games and entertainment business — including its Hollywood movie studio and music label.
The company also has a lesser-known, but profitable financial services division.
“Sony is shoring up its TV production business, which has contributed to its overall recovery,” said SMBC Nikko Securities analyst Koji Kamichika.
“Its strong sectors — imaging sensors and the video games business — have turned out to be profit drivers. Going forward, we think Sony is now on a recovery path and the downside risks are shrinking.”
For the current fiscal year to March 2016, Sony expects a net profit of 140 billion yen and an operating profit of 320 billion yen, although sales would be 7.9 trillion yen, down 3.8 per cent.
That upbeat estimate comes after rival Panasonic said Tuesday that its annual profit soared 49 per cent, owing to strong results at its auto parts unit and lower costs linked to a sweeping restructuring.
Aquos-brand maker Sharp, which reports its results in mid-May, has struggled to fix its balance sheet and is reportedly in talks with its key lenders for aid, as it eyes the closure of loss-making units.