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Light at the end of Sony's long tunnel, pros say

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Sony's rigorous plan unveiled this week to turn the company's fortunes around appears to have convinced not just markets, but analysts as well.

The Japanese tech giant, whose business has been clobbered in recent years by fierce competition and failure to drive new products, on Tuesday unveiled a restructuring plan to engineer a near 70-percent jump in revenue for its electronics devices division over a three-year period.

The news, delivered at the company's annual investor meeting, resonated with markets; Sony's shares jumped 6 percent on Tuesday, closing at their highest level in three and a half years.

Analysts upbeat

In a report titled "Grounded in reality," released by Jefferies following the event, analysts Atul Goyal and Yuki Maeda say Sony's sharply diminished ambitions and pledge to deliver earnings over market share, won them over.

Comments particularly from Hiroki Totoki, Sony's newly appointed chief of its mobile division, who declared Sony isn't "aiming for size or market share but better profits," were heartening to hear, said Jefferies, who has a "buy" rating on Sony's stock.

"We left Sony's electronics IR (investor relations) day impressed," the report said. "All forecasts look fairly conservative… This makes us believe there is sustained upside in Sony."

Sony targets videogame sales to reach 1.6 trillion yen ($13.6 billion) by March 2018, up from 1.29 trillion yen in the current fiscal year, and sales in its devices division to reach a record 1.5 trillion from this year's 890 billion yen, in the same period.

But forecasts in its other divisions were less positive: TV sales are expected to shrink slightly, while its camera business is expected to stay flat or slip.

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Others say the fact that the chiefs of Sony's five electronics divisions took turns to share their vision on Tuesday, represented a strong show of commitment.

"The difference this year is chief financial officer Ken Yoshida showed his determination to hold each division accountable for the results," said Masahiro Wakasugi, electronics sector equities analyst at BNP Paribas.

"I am expecting the electronics business to return to profit in the year ending March 2016. After all, it was the mobile phone division's goodwill write-down that is tipping them into a loss this financial year," he added.

Turning tide

Once considered a pioneer in electronics, Sony – who exited its PC business earlier and pledged repeatedly to turnaround its business only to disappoint – is headed for its fifth full-year net loss in six years.

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But analysts on the whole agree that the tide could be turning for the firm. "Management appears to finally be facing the structural issues," said JJ Park, a Sony analyst at JP Morgan.

To be sure, the outlook remains challenging as Sony has been unable to innovate like its rivals Apple and Samsung, while some consumers no longer find its brand cool.

JP Morgan's Park said in his note that he "believes the TV and smartphone business will experience ongoing headwinds, [although] all negatives seem priced in."