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Sony expects profit to surge on camera sensor sales, cost cuts

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Japanese consumer electronics maker Sony said it expects operating profit to more than quadruple this fiscal year, boosted by strong sales of camera sensors and cost cuts as it seeks to turn around its loss-making mobile phone business.

Sony said on Thursday it estimates operating profit will grow in the year ending March 2016 to 320 billion yen ($2.7 billion) from 68.5 billion in the previous year. Results for the past year were roughly in line with a forecast announced earlier this month.

Though below the average analyst estimate of 408 billion yen, according to Thomson Reuters, this year's target would still be Sony's biggest annual operating profit in seven years. That would mark another milestone in Chief Executive Kazuo Hirai's long haul to pull the Tokyo-based firm out of years of heavy losses in mass consumer electronics, squeezed by cheaper and more nimble rivals.

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Under Hirai's direction, Sony has axed thousands of jobs and reshaped itself to target expansion in lucrative areas such as sensors used in cameras for popular handsets like Apple iPhones. That strategy has vexed influential former executives who have called on the CEO to boost innovation in Sony's own products rather than focus on cost-cutting.

Despite the behind-the-scenes grumbling by Sony 'old boys,' investors have welcomed signs of progress at one of Japan's most iconic technology firms. Shares have risen more than 30 percent so far in 2015, and year-on-year, the stock has nearly doubled, hitting 3,827.50 yen earlier this month, its highest since 2008.