Nikkei forecast contrasts with Sony predictions

TOKYO — Sony will report a 100 billion yen ($1.1 billion) operating loss for fiscal 2008, ending in March, according to a forecast by the Nikkei business daily.

This contrasts with the $2.2 billion operating profit Sony predicted in October.

The Nikkei said the loss could balloon to $2 billion, depending on how successful Sony is in cutting inventory in the January-March quarter.

If the Nikkei forecast comes to pass, it will be Sony’s first loss in 14 years, when it took a one-time charge for its pictures division.

Black ink has turned red because of lower-than-expected sales of Sony’s flat-panel TVs and other products, primarily in the U.S. market, while the rapid strengthening of the yen has devastated the bottom lines of all Japanese export industries.   

In December Sony announced it would cut 16,000 jobs, shut plants and take other restructuring measures. Many analysts later insisted that more radical surgery would be needed to restore the company to financial health.

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