Sony six-month losses nearly $700 million, PS3 sales up

Better-than-expected July-Sept. quarter sees current-gen console sales jump to 3.2 million, but PSP sales fall to 3 million and PS2 sales drop to 1.9 million; annual loss estimate lowered.

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Yesterday, Nintendo reported a ¥69.5 billion ($766 million) net profit for the six months ended September 30, far below analysts' estimates. Today, rival Sony announced it took a ¥63.2 billion ($696 million) net shortfall during the same period, following the $1.03 billion annual loss it reported in May--its first since 1995. Revenue for the April-September period was ¥3.261 trillion ($35.85 billion), down from ¥4.051 trillion ($44.54 billion) during the same period in 2008.

While dire, Sony's losses were less than expected.
While dire, Sony's losses were less than expected.

While substantial, Sony's red ink was less than that predicted by a Thomson Reuters new service survey of analysts, thanks to a better-than-expected ¥26.3 billion ($289 million) net loss on during July-September quarter. During that time, the company took in ¥1.66 trillion ($18.26 billion) in revenue, down from ¥2.07 trillion ($22.77 billion) during the same period the year prior.

The three-month period saw Sony's Networked Product and Services Division, which includes Sony Computer Entertainment, generate ¥352.6 billion ($3.88 billion) in operating revenue for an operating loss of ¥ 58.8 billion ($646 million). Though it did not break out SCE's earnings, Sony did say that "sales in the game business decreased year on year primarily as a result of the appreciation of the yen, as well as a decrease in unit sales of PlayStation 2 hardware and software." The company's admission comes just two days after it used the platform's ninth birthday to declare the PS2 was "showing no signs of slowing down."

Indeed, quarterly PS2 sales dropped from 2.5 million units in July-September 2008 to 1.9 million units during the same time frame in 2009. Quarterly PSP sales were also down, falling from 3.2 million units to 3.0 million units. But thanks to the introduction of the $300 slimline model in late August, PS3 unit sales rose from 2.4 million units to 3.2 million units.

Sony also cited lower movie revenue and declining sales of its VAIO laptops, Bravia HDTVs, and Sony Ericsson mobile phones as other reasons for its losses. However, a doubling in finance-sector revenue, an increase in music revenue boosted by sales of the late Michael Jackson's albums, and eventual savings from a massive companywide restructuring, which saw 16,000 jobs eliminated, caused the company to raise its full-year earnings projections. The company now expects to lose ¥95 billion ($1.04 billion), down from ¥120 billion ($1.32 billion).

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