Sony's net income in its fiscal first quarter fell by nearly half, to 35 billion yen, the equivalent of $325.4 million in U.S. dollars, or $0.31 per share. Sales increased 0.1%, or 8% on a local currency basis.
The strong yen hurt Sony's results, as did weakness in some of its segments. For example, Sony's motion picture segment's sales dropped 31%; the quarter lacked a huge hit like last year's Spider-Man 3. The Sony Ericsson joint venture was a drag as well, as its cell phones underperformed. Other weak spots included the Vaio computer, Sony's music unit (shared with Bertelsmann), and digital cameras.
On a brighter note, Sony's games segment is now profitable, and hardware sales of PlayStation 3 and the PlayStation Portable picked up despite heated competition from Nintendo's Wii and Microsoft's
I've been bearish on Sony for years, for many reasons. It's a massive conglomerate, which makes it confusing, and investors who aren't comfortable number-crunching yen face an instant hurdle in analyzing this Japanese business.
Furthermore, Sony has often shown an unpleasant tendency toward utter corporate cluelessness, irritating consumers and threatening its brand. Whether it's the Sony BMG arm strong-arming music fans (and sometimes depositing rootkits onto computers without users' knowledge) or employing fake blogs as marketing techniques, the company's often seemed to go out of its way to make itself odious to customers.
If you're looking for a company to invest in with exposure to must-have electronics and media, how about Apple
Sony faces an uphill climb against still economic headwinds. I think there are better stock deals out there, for companies facing fewer challenges to drum up growth.