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Sony hikes net profit forecasts as weak yen boosts gaming

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The Japanese electronics and entertainment giant said net profit in the April-December period jumped five percent year-on-year./AFP
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Feb 02, 2023 - 01:10 PM

TOKYO, JAPAN — Sony upgraded its annual net profit forecasts on Thursday, saying it expects strong results in its key gaming sector as the weak yen inflates profits on products sold abroad.

The Japanese electronics and entertainment giant said net profit in the April-December period jumped five percent year-on-year to 809 billion yen ($6.3 billion).

This was partly thanks to strong sales in the game, music and imaging-and-sensors sectors in the third quarter, an important holiday shopping period, the company said.

In the 2022-23 financial year, Sony Group now expects a net profit of 870 billion yen, up from the previous estimate of 840 billion yen.

Its operating profit forecast is now 1.18 trillion yen, up from 1.16 trillion, with income in the gaming division “expected to be higher than the November forecast mainly due to the positive impact of foreign exchange rates”, the company said.

The Japanese currency has gained ground against the greenback in recent months but the dollar still buys around 128 yen, compared with around 114 yen a year ago.

Sony sold 12.8 million PlayStation 5 units in the first nine months of the current financial year, with 7.1 million of those shifted in October-December.

This year’s figure is already more than the 11.5 million sold in 2021-22, when supply chain problems slowed production of the next-generation console.

“Based on this performance, the company has set its full-year sales forecast for the current fiscal year at 19 million (PS5) units, and will work to sell as many units as possible to meet strong demand by optimising its operations,” chief financial officer Hiroki Totoki told reporters.

“I believe user engagement is on the road to recovery thanks to the popularity of the PS5, and hit titles” like “God of War Ragnarok”, he said.

Executive reshuffle 

Game sales will have an important bearing on Sony’s annual results, Hideki Yasuda of Toyo Securities told AFP.

“Sony is expected to aim for higher hardware sales in the coming fiscal year. What is key is whether software sales will also increase to keep up with higher hardware sales,” Yasuda said.

The PS5 has some major titles in the pipeline, including the “highly anticipated” game “Final Fantasy XVI”, he noted.

Sony’s gaming rival Microsoft has sparked an industry battle with its acquisition of “Call of Duty” maker Activision Blizzard — a huge $69 billion purchase that has yet to be finalised while it is examined by antitrust authorities.

A year ago, weeks after Microsoft unveiled its acquisition plan, Sony said it would buy US game studio Bungie, creator of hits like “Halo” and “Destiny”.

Sony also announced a reshuffle at the top of the company on Thursday, with chief financial officer Totoki to also become president and chief operating officer.

Current company president and chief executive officer Kenichiro Yoshida will become board chairman and remain CEO.

The yen’s fall was helped by the contrast between the US Federal Reserve’s interest rate hikes and the Bank of Japan’s longstanding monetary easing programme.

“Sony has a wide range of businesses, so the impact of foreign exchange changes are unevenly felt in various areas,” Yasuda said.

The company said sales in its pictures division were expected to be lower than previously forecast, partly because of “the impact of foreign exchange rates” which make it more expensive to produce films abroad.

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