Day by day, Sony's (SNE) core electronics business is looking less like a white elephant. On Oct. 25, the Japanese company swung to a profit in the latest quarter, vs. the year-earlier period, thanks to brisk flat-panel TV and digital camera sales. It also raised its annual profit and sales forecasts from July. In the fiscal year ending March, 2008, Sony now expects overall operating profits to rise fivefold, to more than $3.9 billion, on a modest 8% gain in sales, to $78.8 billion. Both these numbers are 2% higher than earlier estimates.
The improving outlook underscores how more than two years of Chairman and CEO Howard Stringer's tough-love reforms have helped restore the vitality of Sony's key electronics division (BusinessWeek.com, 10/11/07).
But Stringer's record is hardly flawless. The biggest blemish: the money-losing video game business. The July-September quarter offered further evidence that problems plaguing the company's games division aren't going away soon. Had games been less of a drag, the company's overall results might have been more impressive. The games division's quarterly operating losses swelled to $848 million-double the figure from last year-and first-half losses reached $1.1 billion.