This Tech Giant Doesn't Age Well

Some things get better with time. Fine wine comes to mind as a classic example. Unfortunately, electronics giant Sony (NYSE: SNE  ) isn't on that list, despite being around for 66 years.

The tech powerhouse has just put up third -quarter results, and red continues to be the primary color. Revenue declined to $23.4 billion, generating an operating loss of $1.2 billion and a net loss of more than $2 billion. The company attributed the shrinking top line to the floods in Thailand last year, deterioration in market conditions in developed countries, and pesky foreign exchange rates.

When people think Sony, they think consumer products and services. While that segment brings in the most revenue, $12.8 billion in the quarter, it also bleeds the most. The division generated an operating loss of $1.1 billion, the vast majority of the $1.2 billion consolidated operating loss. Its best-performing segment? Financial services.

Sony Financial Services includes its life insurance and bank subsidiaries, among others, and generated $418 million operating income, or a 15% operating margin. That tops its next-best music segment's $196 million in operating income, or 12% operating margin.

Sony expects to generate a $2.9 billion net loss for the fiscal year that ends next month, more than twice what it projected just three months ago. Sony has tapped a new CEO, insider Kazuo Hirai, to replace Howard Stringer in April. Hirai is known for jumpstarting Sony's PlayStation division through cost-cutting.

Although Microsoft's (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) Xbox 360 pounded both the PlayStation 3 and Nintendo Wii in November, selling 1.7 million consoles, compared with the PS3's 900,000 and the Wii's 860,000 that won't stop Sony from releasing its doomed PlayStation Vita stateside this month.  Nor will the fact that Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) iOS and Google (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) Android are decimating the dedicated handheld-gaming world. Apple's upcoming TV may even take a shot at consoles.

Steve Jobs had always said he drew much inspiration from Sony in his younger days. The tables have turned, and Sony is now looking at an Apple-esque approach to seamlessly integrate its hardware and content together. Hirai said Sony needs to focus more on the "user experience" and that it "can't just continue to be a great purveyor of hardware products."

Sony is a classic example of a once-innovative company that has failed to adapt, and its results are starting to show their age. I'm giving it an underperform CAPScall today, since I think this ship is too big for Hirai to turn it around in time.

Sony is falling victim to the mobile revolution as its gaming offerings are replaced by good-enough mobile alternatives and its consumer products lag the competition. Luckily, The Motley Fool has just released a new special free report on one company that will capitalize on The Next Trillion-Dollar Revolution in a way that Sony isn't. Get your free copy now.

Fool contributor Evan Niu owns shares of Apple, but he holds no other position in any company mentioned. Check out his holdings and a short bio. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple, Microsoft, and Google. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Google, Microsoft, and Apple and creating bull call spread positions in Microsoft and Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.


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