Sony’s net profit triples to $3.5 billion

Revenue climbs almost 7% to $84.5 billion

The Howard Stringer turnaround era at Sony got its most glowing report card yet on Wednesday.

Despite less-than-stellar numbers in the vidgame and motion picture units, the conglom reported sharply higher profits for fiscal 2007, which ended March 31, as net profit nearly tripled to ¥369.4 billion ($3.5 billion). The number trumped the company’s earlier estimate of $3.23 billion.

Revenue climbed almost 7% for the year to $84.5 billion.

The film division saw sales shrink 11% to $8.17 billion, which Sony attributed to fewer releases on its slate. This was partially offset by more coin from homevideo and TV sales, as well as the sale of a bankruptcy claim against KirchMedia.

But motion picture operating profit rose 26.5% to $514 million on the strength of films such as “Spider-Man 3” and “Superbad,” homevid and TV sales, as well as lower release costs.

Looking ahead, Sony execs figure the film biz will be a mixed bag in fiscal 2008. The company sees lower sales for the movie division due to the weakening of the dollar against the yen and lower operating profit because the KirchMedia bankruptcy claim sale was a one-off.

However, on a local currency basis, with an apples-to-apples comparison, Sony expects revenues and operating profit to rise this year. Execs are expecting good performances from Adam Sandler’s “You Don’t Mess With the Zohan” next month, Will Smith actioner “Hancock” on the Fourth of July weekend and the next James Bond film in the fall.

The games division recorded an operating loss of $1.19 billion on sales of $12.2 billion. This loss, however, represented a $1.03 billion improvement over the previous fiscal year, as Sony continued to reduce losses from its PlayStation 3 hardware biz while boosting sales of PS3 software. Sales increased 26% for the year.

Sony moved 9.2 million PS3 consoles worldwide, for a year-over-year gain of 5.6 million units. Meanwhile, global sales of PS3 software totaled 57.9 million units, for a unit increase of 44.6 million.

The games division is looking ahead to decreased sales due to the long fade of the PS2, though the company foresees growth in operating profits as the PS3 biz gains software sales traction while shaving hardware losses.

The key electronics division reported a rise in sales of 8.9% to $63 billion, while operating profit soared 121.8% to $3.4 billion, with strong sales of Vaio PCs and Cyber-shot digital cameras contributing to gains.

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