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Sony Swings to Electronics Profit, Raises Forecast

Sony swung to a quarterly operating profit as it booked strong sales of liquid crystal display TVs and digital cameras and benefited from a weaker yen, and it slightly raised its full-year forecast.

Sony Building
Shizuo Kambayashi
Sony Building

The profit jump also reflected the absence of hefty costs booked in the same quarter last year to recall faulty PC batteries.

Sony, which competes with Canon Inc in digital cameras and with Samsung Electronics Co Ltd in flat TVs, has enjoyed strong demand for its Cyber-shot digital cameras, Handycam camcorders, Vaio PCs and Bravia LCD TVs.

But its PlayStation 3 (PS3) videogame console continued to lag Nintendo Co Ltd's hot-selling Wii, and the game division fell deep into the red as it was forced to sell the PS3 at a loss.

Sony raised its forecast for operating profit to 450 billion yen ($3.9 billion) for the year to March 2008 from 440 billion, compared with a consensus of 431.5 billion yen in a poll of 21
analysts by Reuters Estimates.

The revised forecast represents a more than six-fold jump from a year earlier.

Sony, battling Nintendo and Microsoft Corp in the global videogame industry, loaded the PS3 with its cutting-edge technology such as a Blu-ray high-definition DVD recorder and the "Cell" high-performance microchip.

But the advanced components have driven up the price for buyers and made it difficult and time-consuming for game creators to develop PS3 software.

Nintendo said earlier its April-September operating profit nearly tripled, and it raised its full-year outlook. Microsoft reports quarterly earnings later on Thursday.

Price Cuts

Sony recently announced PS3 price cuts and the launch of a low-price model to ignite demand and win back sales in the run-up to the crucial holiday season. But the cheaper PS3, which goes on sale in Japan on Nov. 11 for 39,980 yen ($350), will still cost 60 percent more than Nintendo's Wii.

Nintendo said earlier this month that software publisher Capcom would develop the latest version of its "Monster Hunter" blockbuster action game for the Wii. Capcom had previously developed "Monster Hunter" for Sony's consoles.

Sony said July-September operating profit was 90.47 billion yen, versus a year-earlier loss of 20.83 billion, when the Tokyo-based electronics and entertainment conglomerate was hit by
hefty costs for recalling PC batteries.

Net profit soared to 73.72 billion yen from 1.68 billion.

Besides brisk camera and camcorder sales, Sony's quarterly results were boosted by a one-off gain from selling land.

Sony shares rose 1.6 percent in the year to Wednesday, outperforming Tokyo's electrical machinery index IELEC, which lost 6.5 percent.