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Sony raises earnings outlook, expects best-ever annual profit

TOKYO, Oct 31 (Reuters) - Japan's Sony Corp lifted its full-year operating income forecast on Tuesday, expecting to book its highest-ever profit due to strong sales of image sensors used in smartphones and other devices.

The electronics firm forecast profit of 630 billion yen ($5.57 billion) for the year ending March, from 500 billion yen estimated three months ago.

Meeting the new forecast would mean Sony exceeding its previous record of 526 billion yen set in the year ended March 1998, when strong sales of consumer electronics including its first PlayStation games console coincided with its box-office hit "Men in Black".

The new outlook compared with a Thomson Reuters Starmine SmartEstimate of 585.81 billion yen drawn from the views of 26 analysts.

Sony also said profit for July-September jumped to 204.2 billion yen from 45.7 billion yen a year earlier. The result is higher than the 140.49 billion yen average estimate of 11 analysts. ($1 = 113.1200 yen) (Reporting by Makiko Yamazaki; Editing by Christopher Cushing)