Weaker Entertainment Earnings Hurt Sony in Third Quarter

Japanese electronics to entertainment conglomerate, Sony may currently be riding high at the global box office with “Bad Boys For Life,” but weak figures across its music, movies and games businesses meant that group profits dipped by 48% in the third quarter of its financial year.

For the October to December period, Sony reported third quarter profits of $2.10 billion (JPY220 billion), compared with the $3.83 billion disclosed at the same point last financial year. Revenues increased fractionally to reach $22.5 billion ($2.46 trillion) compared with $21.4 billion (JPY2.40 trillion).

Financial analysts’ consensus estimates  for third quarter earnings were JPY144 per share, according to investment website Seeking Alpha. In a statement to the Tokyo Stock Exchange, on Tuesday local time, the group reported EPS of JPY183.

The pictures division, which covers the Sony Pictures Entertainment unit as well as TV channel and production operations, reported profit of $51 million, compared with $102 million in the same period last financial year.

The pictures division saw a 12% decrease in US dollar revenues, reflecting lower theatrical revenues in comparison with a quarter that included hit “Venom.” The revenue drop also reflected lower sales by broadcast channels. That was partly offset by higher sales for TV productions, notably season 3 of “The Crown.”

Sony made no change to its latest forecast for the pictures division’s revenue and profits in the full year, which runs until March 2020. It forecasts full year sector revenue of $9.45 billion (JPY1.03 trillion) and profits of $642 (JPY70 billion).

The music division showed a revenue improvement from JPY209 billion to JPY217 billion, but operating income dropped sharply from JPY147 billion to JPY36.2 billion.

The music division showed a revenue improvement from $1.92 billion (JPY209 billion) to $1.99 billion (JPY217 billion), which came from both music publishing and from recorded music sales. But operating income dropped sharply from $1.34 billion (JPY147 billion) to $332 million (JPY36.2 billion), as a result of the accounting changes that followed the acquisition of a 60% stake in EMI in the third quarter of 2018-19 financial year.

“Excluding these items, our music business is steadily growing primarily due to the growth of the streaming market. Streaming revenue in our Recorded Music business continued to grow at a high rate, increasing 16% year-on-year and 20% year-on-year excluding the impact of the conversion to the yen,” said Hiroki Totoki senior VP and chief financial officer, on a subsequent conference call with financial analysts.

Operating income for games and network services fell from $671 million (JPY73.1 billion) to $489 million (JPY53.4 billion), as sector revenues slipped from $7.25 billion (JPY791 billion) to $5.80 billion (JPY632 billion). Weighing it down were sagging sales for the aging PlayStation 4 consoles, and decreased sales of third-party software. The group made a 3% cut to its full year revenue forecast for the games sector, and a similar reduction of expectations for operating income.

Despite the entertainment headwinds reported in the third quarter, Sony increased its forecast of group revenue by 1% to $78 billion (JPY8.50 trillion) for the financial year ending March 31, 2020. It increased its guidance for 2019-20 net income by 9% to $5.41 billion (JPY590 billion). Even after the upward revisions, the forecast numbers represent declines compared with the 2018-19 fiscal year.

Other executives on the conference call were: Naomi Matsuoka, senior GM and corporate planning officer; and Hirotoshi Korenaga, senior GM at the accounting department.



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