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Sony Books Highest Q1 Profit Since 2006 on Strong Sensor Sales

The company also nudged up its full-year forecast for its gaming division due to strong PlayStation 4 sales.


Sony reported its highest first-quarter profit since 2006 on Thursday due to strong sales of camera sensors and PlayStation 4 video games, beating analyst estimates and helping to reassure investors a recent stock offering would pay off.

April-June operating profit rose 39 percent to 96.9 billion yen ($780.8 million), compared with the 73.3 billion average estimate of 18 analysts polled by Reuters.

The result comes after Sony last month announced its first capital raising in a quarter of a century, sending its shares tumbling. Sony said it would use the funds to boost production of image sensors, which are now among its strongest-selling products.

Chief Executive Kazuo Hirai is banking on sensors to anchor a turnaround at Sony, which is pulling back from goods such as smartphones and TVs that are losing out to cheaper rivals in Asia as well as to industry giants like Apple and Samsung.

Strong demand from smartphone makers, who are competing to offer high-quality cameras on both the front and back of handsets, has helped to drive sales of sensors.

It said it now expects 580 billion yen in sensor sales in the year through March rather than 550 billion yen previously.

Sony also nudged up its full-year forecast for its gaming division due to strong PlayStation 4 sales. In the first quarter, operating income rose 351 percent to 19.5 billon yen. That was helped by insurance recoveries on losses related to a cyber attack on Sony’s network services.

On the other hand, Sony’s own mobile business reported a 22.9 billion yen loss as it fell further behind Samsung and other makers. It now expects a full-year loss of 60 billion yen, worse than the 39 billion yen loss it expected in April.

The company cited “a significant decrease in smartphone unit sales resulting from a strategic decision not to pursue scale in order to improve profitability.”

It reiterated its view for group operating profit to more than quadruple in the current fiscal year to 320 billion yen.

Sony shares closed up 2.1 percent ahead of the results, versus a 1.1 percent rise in the broader market. They fell more than 8 percent the day Sony announced fundraising plans due to fears of stock dilution, but have recouped much of those losses and are currently double year-earlier prices.

(Reporting by Ritsuko Ando; Editing by Christopher Cushing)

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