TOKYO (AFP) – Sony shares surged on Thursday to their highest close in nearly five years as an improved earnings outlook offered a glimmer of hope for the struggling electronics firm.
The Tokyo-listed stock, which was up 18 per cent earlier in the day, finished at 3,101.5 yen ($26) in heavy trading, 12 per cent above the previous day and at its highest level since April 2010.
After Japanese markets closed on Wednesday, Sony said it now expects to lose 170 billion yen ($1.4 billion) in its fiscal year to March, a hefty shortfall but much narrower than the 230 billion yen previously forecast.
It also projected an operating profit of 20 billion yen, turning around an October estimate that it would lose 40 billion yen.
A weak yen helped Sony’s third-quarter results as net profit more than tripled, helped by a pick-up in its smartphone and PlayStation console businesses while restructuring costs shrank.
A big contributor to the robust quarterly results were sales of image sensors for cameras found in smartphones and vehicles.
“The demand for front-facing camera modules is going through the roof, because everyone wants to take high-quality selfies, and that doubles the market size for Sony,” Amir Anvarzadeh, a manager of Japanese equity sales at BGC Partners in Singapore, told Bloomberg News.
“The auto segment of the market is also beginning to boom. Cars potentially may have more than five modules per car.”
But Sony also warned of more job cuts at its mobile phone business as it chops away at struggling units in a bid to claw back to profitability.
It now plans to shed a total of 2,100 jobs by March 2016, including the previously announced payroll cut of 1,000 positions – about 30 per cent of the unit’s workforce.
Sony has struggled in the consumer electronics business that built its global brand, including losing billions of dollars in televisions over the past decade as fierce competition from lower-cost rivals pummelled the TV subsidiary’s finances.