Tokyo - Sony’s television sales revenue jumped the most in the first quarter since at least 2012, the group said yesterday.

This was due to an increase in global demand amid the Winter Olympics and ahead of the World Cup in Brazil.

Sony sales rose 30 percent to $2.15 billion (R23bn), compared with $1.65bn a year earlier, Bloomberg data show. Samsung Electronics generated the most sales in the quarter with about $9bn, a 1 percent increase, and LG Electronics, TCL, Sony and Skyworth Digital made up the rest of the top five.

Sony chief executive Kazuo Hirai said last month that the company’s struggling TV unit could make its first profit in more than a decade even if it missed sales forecasts by as much as 16 percent.

Japan’s biggest TV maker unexpectedly forecast a ¥50bn (R5.3bn) net loss this year as slumping demand for its sets and video cameras was compounded by costs of restructuring and exiting the personal computer business.

“Globally, Sony has been successful in focusing on high-end TV models,” Junya Ayada, a Tokyo-based analyst at Daiwa Securities, said. “Sales in Europe have increased in the three months [to] March due to improvements in operations.”

Sony shares rose 0.2 percent to ¥1 639 in Tokyo yesterday, curbing its decline to 10 percent this year. The benchmark Topix index lost 0.1 percent. Samsung fell 0.6 percent in Seoul, compared with a 0.2 percent decline in the benchmark Kospi index.

Global TV shipments in the first quarter rose less than 1 percent to 50.8 million units. Samsung shipped about 12.2 million sets, LG 8.3 million and TCL 3.7 million.

Sony, which shipped 3.1 million units, has forecast sales of 16 million liquid crystal display sets this fiscal year, though Hirai said the business could still make money if it sold only 13.5 million units, the same number as last year. Hirai has trimmed the TV product line-up to focus on so-called 4K ultra high-definition sets.

Hong Kong-based Skyworth boosted revenue 35 percent in the first quarter from a year earlier. China’s Hisense Electric boosted sales 12 percent in the same period.

“One reason Chinese manufacturers have expanded sales is because of an increase in 4K TV sales in their domestic market,” Ayada said.

The average selling price of a Sony TV in the quarter was $690.80, an 8 percent premium to the global average of $640.

The average Samsung set was the most expensive at $739.70, with the cheapest average TV price from TP Vision.

The World Cup in Brazil started yesterday until July 13. – Bloomberg