Sony cuts PS3 forecasts, raises PSP outlook

[UPDATE] Long-held 11-million-unit annual goal falls by wayside, thanks to a combination of the strong yen and weakening demand from cash-strapped US market.

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Electronics giant Sony's PlayStation 3 may be "out of the woods," according to CEO Sir Howard Stringer, but currency woes mean that the company has had to slash its profits forecast for the financial year ending March 31.

According to Bloomberg, operating profit will be ¥410 billion (approximately $3.85 billion), below the five-percent margin that Sony had previously targeted. It is also significantly less than the ¥444.7 billion ($4.17 billion) previously estimated by an average of 19 analyst predictions by the Bloomberg news service.

The reasoning behind the cut is the stronger yen and softening US demand for Sony products due to the fallout from the subprime mortgage market. At a press briefing held in Tokyo, Sony chief financial officer Nobuyuki Oneda told reporters, "The subprime problem didn't have much impact on our year-end sales, but it may start affecting sales toward the spring. We cannot rule out the possibility that consumer spending in the US may be hit."

Bloomberg also later updated its story to state that Sony has also now abandoned Stringer's pledge to raise profitability to the highest level in nine years by the end of March. Oneda also added that an exchange-rate change of a single yen to the dollar affects Sony's operating profits by six billion yen a year.

Sony also cut its predicted PlayStation 3 sales figures to 9.5 million units by the end of March 2008, down from the 11-million-unit target it repeatedly touted last year. Sony had stuck steadfastly to the goal, saying as recently as last September that it was still on track to reach it.

In its financial 2006 year, which ran from April 2006 to March 2007, Sony shipped 5.5 million PlayStation 3 systems, and sales were boosted in all regions after the new, cheaper 40GB model went on sale.

[UPDATE] For the PlayStation Portable, conversely, Sony raised its sales estimate by 30 percent to 13 million for the year, as reported by Reuters. Furthermore, the company raised its full-year net-income forecast by three percent to ¥340 billion ($3.19 million), as its games division returned to profitability.

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