Sony stays in the red, trims annual loss forecast

TOKYO: Sony reported a smaller-than-expected 26.3 billion yen loss ($289 million) for the July-September quarter as healthy sales of PlayStation 3 game consoles and Michael Jackson hits put it on track for a gradual recovery.

Tokyo-based Sony Corp. has been battered by the global slowdown and sliding prices of gadgets. But the Japanese electronics and entertainment giant said Friday it now expects a smaller flow of red ink for the full fiscal year through March 2010.

It's forecasting a 95 billion yen ($1 billion) loss compared with the initial projection for a 120 billion yen ($1.3 billion) loss. The new forecast is marginally better than the 98.9 billion yen loss it suffered the previous fiscal year.

Sony said it managed to turn a quarterly profit in its core electronics and device business. But Sony acknowledged its liquid crystal display TVs and game machine computer chip businesses continued to be hurt by intensifying price competition.

Even the perk Sony got from nostalgic demand for Jackson albums following his death in June wasn't enough to offset the losses in its other divisions.

Other best-selling albums for the quarter included Whitney Houston's "I Look To You" and the King of Leon's "Only By the Night," Sony said in a statement.

A strong yen, which diminishes the overseas earnings of Japanese exporters, erased 77 billion yen ($846 million) from Sony's quarterly operating profit.

The strong yen hurt Sony overall, including its gaming business despite stronger sales of the PlayStation 3, which got a lift from a recent price cut. Sony sold 3.2 million PlayStation 3 machines around the world during the latest quarter, compared to 2.4 million the same period the previous year.

Sony, which also makes Walkman portable music players and Bravia flat-panel TVs, had reported a 20.8 billion yen profit for the July-September period last year.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters had expected a 40 billion yen loss ($440 million) for the July-September quarter, and were expecting full year losses to be reduced to 89 billion yen ($978 million).