Sony first-half net profit doubles, forecast revised up

TOKYO (AFP) – Sony yesterday said net profit doubled in the April-September period and revised up its full-year forecast, citing growth in key sectors including gaming, which has been boosted by coronavirus lockdowns worldwide.

The results beat analyst expectations and came as the Japanese tech giant gears up to launch its much-anticipated PlayStation 5 console next month, setting up a holiday season head-to-head with the new Xbox.

The gaming sector has been one of the few beneficiaries of the pandemic, with people forced indoors sending title downloads and streaming soaring.

Sony said net profit leaped 103.8 per cent to JPY692.89 billion (USD6.65 billion) for the first half, and forecast annual net profits of JPY800 billion – up from an earlier JPY510 billion forecast.

The first-half results were due in part to financial factors, including positive tax benefits, but also reflected a strong performance in games and network services, music streaming and financial services.

“Enhanced restrictions on exports to China by the United States (US) government are negatively impacting our business in the imaging and sensing sector, while our gaming segment is benefitting from demand for stay-at-home activities,” Sony’s Chief Financial Officer Hiroko Totoki told reporters.

Game-playing hours among PlayStation users peaked in April, but demand for games “will continue through the last half of the year”, he added.

Strong performance in the game and music sectors also drove the upwards revision in the full-year net profit forecast, with Sony saying it was seeing “higher-than-expected sales of games software, primarily add-on content” and an increase in music-streaming revenues. It was not all good news, however, with decreasing sales of sensors for mobile products only partially offset by an increase in sales of sensors for digital cameras.

The firm’s movie unit has also struggled as the pandemic keeps cinemas around the world shuttered and delays new releases.