Sony doubles profit forecast after selling U.S. headquarters, stock holdings

The company said it has also benefited from the rise in Japanese stocks and the yen's weakness in recent months

Sony has doubled its profit forecast for its recently ended fiscal year, a widely expected move after it sold off major assets including its U.S. headquarters and an office complex in Tokyo.

The company said Thursday it now expects to have made a net profit of ¥40 billion (US$400 million), twice the target it affirmed just two months ago. The forecast is for its fiscal year ended March 31, for which Sony has to officially announce results next month.

Sony was widely expected to meet or beat its earlier modest profit target after selling its New York offices on swanky Madison Avenue, a building and block of land near Osaka Station in central Tokyo, and share holdings in medical services company M3 and mobile gaming firm DeNA.

The just-ended fiscal year was the first under CEO Kazuo Hirai, who pledged to return the company to profitability after years of losses. He said he is personally overseeing the development of key products, as well as leading a restructuring that includes closing factories and reducing Sony's workforce by 10,000.

Even with the one-time boost from asset sales, the profit goal is modest at less than 1 percent of total sales. When Sony announces its earnings on May 9, the industry will be looking for signs that Hirai has been able to revive Sony's core consumer electronics business, as well as examining how its PlayStation businesses have performed.

On Thursday, Sony also nudged up its revenue target by 3 percent to take account of strong performance at its financial subsidiary as the Japanese stock market rose in recent months. The company will also get a boost from the yen's recent weakness, which can increase income from profits made overseas.

Like many Japanese companies, Sony's fiscal year ends March 31.

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Jay Alabaster

IDG News Service
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