Sony to cut 5 000 jobs as profit remains elusive

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br SONY-EARNINGS

Reuters

Chief executive Kazuo Hirai is selling Sony's PC unit. Photo: Reuters

Tokyo - Sony forecast a surprise ¥110 billion (R12.2bn) full-year loss yesterday and will cut 5 000 more jobs as chief executive Kazuo Hirai sells the firm’s personal computer (PC) business and splits the television division into a separate unit.

Sony had not ruled out selling its television business after receiving “various offers”, Hirai said yesterday.

The company’s forecast for a net loss in the year to March was an about-turn from a prediction of a ¥30bn profit made in October last year. Sony’s German-traded shares fell.

Hirai expanded his reorganisation after failing to meet a pledge to end television losses this year and spur a revival, having announced at least 10 000 job cuts previously and plans to focus on mobile devices, games and imaging products. Sales of Sony’s key products are declining as the firm struggles to find new hits and consumers shift to mobile devices by Apple and Samsung.

“The reform announced today comes far too late,” said Masahiko Ishino at Advanced Research Japan. “There isn’t much hope to revive the electronics business overall.”

The company would sell its PC business, which makes notebooks under the Vaio brand, to buyout firm Japan Industrial Partners, Sony said.

Hirai said Sony did not have specific plans to sell the television business, which would be split into a wholly owned unit.

The full-year operating income would be ¥80bn, less than half its October forecast of ¥170bn, while the sales projection was unchanged at ¥7.7 trillion, Sony said.

Hirai said: “My responsibility is to turn around the electronics operation. I’d like to say this time’s reform is final but amid intensifying competition, reform may be needed going forward.”

German-traded shares of Sony fell 4.3 percent to the equivalent of ¥1 537. Sony rose 1.5 percent in Tokyo before the announcement, narrowing its loss this year to 11 percent.

It cited the costs of restructuring its television and PC units for the earnings revision.

The television business has lost ground in a contracting market to put it further behind competitors Samsung and LG. Sony’s share of global television revenue fell to 7.5 percent in the third quarter of last year from 8.1 percent the previous quarter, NPD DisplaySearch said.

“Hirai lacks aggressiveness,” said Hideki Yasuda, an analyst at Ace Research Institute in Tokyo. “Sony needs to produce a new field for growth in order to increase its value.”

Sony lowered its sales forecast for Xperia smartphones to 40 million units from an earlier projection of 42 million units. It rose to number three in global smartphone shipment revenue in the September quarter, according to Bloomberg.

A bright spot for Sony has been its new PlayStation 4 game console, which sold more than 4.2 million units in the first six weeks after its November release, outpacing competing machines from Microsoft and Nintendo. – Bloomberg


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