Sony reports record annual loss

May 10, 2012, Thursday/ 15:42:00

Sony Corp. racked up a record annual loss of 457 billion yen ($5.7 billion) in its fourth straight year of red ink as the once-glorious maker of the Walkman and PlayStation struggles toward a turnaround under a new president.

The electronics and entertainment company, which also makes "Spider-Man" movies, reported Thursday a loss of 255 billion yen ($3.2 billion) for the January-March period - its fifth straight quarterly net loss to round out a fiscal year that was the worst in its 66-year corporate history. The latest red ink was worse than 1995, which followed Sony's ambitious but disastrous purchase of Hollywood studio Columbia Pictures. Sony's recent troubles were worsened by factory and supplier damage in northeastern Japan, ravaged by the earthquake and tsunami last year. Sony also suffered production disruptions from the flooding in Thailand. Quarterly sales inched up 1.2 percent on-year to 1.6 trillion yen ($20 billion). Annual sales plunged nearly 10 percent to 6.5 trillion yen ($81 billion), as unit sales slipped in flat-panel TVs, video and digital cameras, game machines and personal computers.

Sony has bled money for eight straight years in its core TV business, bashed by competition from Samsung Electronics Co. of South Korea and other Asian rivals. And consumers are flocking to products from Apple Inc. like the iPhone and iPad instead of Sony gadgets. A soaring yen that erodes the overseas earnings of Japanese exporters like Sony has also added to the damage. Sony is aiming for a comeback under Kazuo Hirai, appointed president last month, who has headed the gaming division and built his career in the US. Sony forecast a return to profit for the fiscal year through March 2013 at 30 billion yen ($375 million), banking on the growing smartphone and tablet business, as well as a recovery from last year's disasters. Lasts month, Hirai said the company will cut 10,000 jobs, or about 6 percent of its global work force, and turn a profit in TVs in the next two years.

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