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Sony reports record annual loss
TOKYO — Sony Corp. racked up a record annual loss of 457 billion yen ($5.7 billion) in its fourth straight year of red ink as the once-glorious maker of the Walkman and PlayStation struggles toward a turnaround under a new president.
The electronics and entertainment company, which also makes “Spider-Man” movies, reported Thursday a loss of 255 billion yen ($3.2 billion) for the January-March period — its fifth straight quarterly net loss to round out a fiscal year that was the worst in its 66-year corporate history.
Sony’s recent troubles were worsened by factory and supplier damage in northeastern Japan, ravaged by the earthquake and tsunami last year. Sony also suffered production disruptions from the flooding in Thailand.
Quarterly sales inched up 1.2 percent on-year to 1.6 trillion yen ($20 billion). Annual sales plunged nearly 10 percent to 6.5 trillion yen ($81 billion), as unit sales slipped in flat-panel TVs, video and digital cameras, game machines and personal computers.
A soaring yen that erodes the overseas earnings of Japanese exporters like Sony has also added to the damage.
Sony is aiming for a comeback under Kazuo Hirai, appointed president last month, who has headed the gaming division and built his career in the U.S.
Sony forecast a return to profit for the fiscal year through March 2013 at 30 billion yen ($375 million), banking on the growing smartphone and tablet business, as well as a recovery from last year’s disasters.
Lasts month, Hirai said the company will cut 10,000 jobs, or about 6 percent of its global work force, and turn a profit in TVs in the next two years.
The job cuts come on top of a couple of rounds under Hirai’s predecessor, Welsh-born Howard Stringer, who remains chairman and was the first foreigner to head Sony.
He said Sony was in a bind because, even when its electronics segment fared well, its results would be pulled down by entertainment problems — or the other way around.
“Synergy is something that might happen, but it’s not something a company should go after,” he said. “It instead turns into an obstacle.”
By Brahma Chellaney
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