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Sony Slashes Guidance on Struggling Smartphone Business

Deeper loss and no dividend after a $1.7 billion impairment charge.

Reuters / Toru Hanai

Sony on Wednesday warned of a much-deeper-than-expected loss and said it would not pay a dividend this business year after it was hit by a 180 billion yen ($1.7 billion) impairment charge for its struggling smartphone division.

The Japanese consumer electronics company is now predicting a 230 billion yen ($2.15 billion) net loss for the year ending March 31, versus its previous forecast for a 50 billion yen loss. It expects an operating loss of 40 billion yen instead of a 140 billion yen profit flagged in July.

The news marks the sixth downward revision under Chief Executive Kazuo Hirai, who took his post in 2012 promising to pull the firm’s troubled electronics division into the black by focusing on its mobile, gaming and imaging units.

The revision is also an embarrassment for new Chief Financial Officer Kenichiro Yoshida, who assumed his post on April 1 promising the company would be more realistic about its outlook.

Yoshida warned in July that Sony could write down losses on its mobile unit for this business year. At the time Sony cut its profit outlook for its smartphone business to zero, but stuck to its full-year forecast.

In July Sony also cut its full-year sales forecast for its smartphones to 43 million from 50 million, which would mark a 10 percent increase on the year.

Sales of Sony’s high-end Xperia mobile devices have suffered due to a lack of relationships with carriers in the crucial U.S. market, where its smartphones are so far only available on No. 4 carrier T-Mobile US, as well as in China, where local makers are dominant.

(Additional reporting by Chris Gallagher; Editing by Chang-Ran Kim and Matt Driskill)

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