PS3 sales near 17M as Sony profits sink

Electronics and financial services drag down Japanese company; game losses narrow as PS3 outpaces 360 in July-Sept.

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Sony wasn't joking when it said last week that it was in for a grim fiscal year 2008. As a portent of things to come, the Japanese electronics company revised its profits projections downward an additional 39 percent for the year, which runs April 1, 2008 to March 31, 2009, in all putting them off a full 59 percent from last year's performance.

Keeping in line with those expectations, Sony said today that net profits for the July-September quarter slid 72 percent, falling to ¥20.8 billion ($213 million) from ¥73.7 billion ($755 million) a year ago. Total revenue stood at ¥2.07 trillion ($21.3 billion), off half a percentage point from last year. Operating income skidded 90 percent year over year, falling to ¥11 billion ($113 million) from ¥111.6 billion ($1.14 billion).

Sony's bread-and-butter electronics segment, which accounts for the bulk of the company's revenues, saw a .6 percent decline in sales for the reporting period, dipping to ¥1.7 trillion ($17.4 billion). The decline comes despite stronger sales of the Bravia LCD TVs and Vaio PCs. As the company noted last week, the yen's strengthen in the global market as well as tighter profit margins due to increased competition contributed to the company's lackluster performance in this area.

Gamers will be pleased to know that Sony's games segment actually saw some gains during the period. For the quarter, Sony's games arm generated ¥269 billion ($2.76 billion), a 10 percent increase year over year. Naturally, the publisher attributed its performance to rising sales of the PlayStation 3 and PSP, with the former shifting 2.43 million units and the latter moving 3.18 million systems. PlayStation 2 sales continued to dwindle during the quarter, falling to 2.5 million units.

Of note, PS3 sales stood 200,000 units higher than those of the Xbox 360 over the same stretch. Last week, Microsoft said that the Xbox 360 sold 2.2 million units during the comparable period of time, which was a 20 percent increase year over year. To date, the PlayStation 3's global lifetime sales stand at 16.85 million units.

Though the game's unit saw increased revenue for the quarter, it remained in the red. Sony's games arm posted a ¥39.5 billion ($405 million) operating loss for the July-September period, an improvement over the ¥96.7 billion ($991 million) deficit it posted for the same period last year. Sony noted that this tightening of losses was due to a decrease in production costs on the PS3, an increase in software sales for its flagship console, and strong hardware sales of the PSP.

Not unsurprising considering the global economic crisis, Sony's financial services segment took a significant hit during the quarter, seeing an operating loss of ¥25 billion ($256 million) and falling revenues of ¥100 billion ($1.02 billion). Conversely, the movie business performed quite well--with sales increasing 3.4 percent to ¥196 billion ($2.00 billion)--on the strength of Hancock, Step Brothers, and Pineapple Express.

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