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Friday, 27 April, 2001, 09:08 GMT 10:08 UK
Sony heads for good year
The Playstation 2 is no longer a drag on Sony profits
Sony, the Japanese electronics giant, has unveiled a bright forecast for the year ahead, saying troubles that dogged production of its Playstation 2 games console are now behind it.

The company said it expected a nine-fold rise in net profit to 150bn yen ($1.2bn; 842m) and a 33% increase in operating profit to 300bn yen.

Sales of 8,000bn yen were predicted.

The forecasts came as Sony announced its first rise in annual group operating profit for three years.

The rise was marginal - up 1% to 225bn yen - but pleased investors as further evidence that a corner had been turned.

Shares rise

Sony shares have risen more than 15% this year - compared with a 2.5% rise in Tokyo's benchmark Nikkei 225 index - and put on another 1% in trade on Friday (before the results were announced), ending at 9,240 yen.

"The game sector is set to show a clearer picture of business recovery this year and the point will be on how this will offset likely profit declines in the electronics sector," said Nikko Salomon Smith Barney analyst Masami Fujino.

Net profit - which includes one-off items such as gains or losses on investments - was 86% down at 16.75bn yen following the well-publicised production problems with the Playstation 2 that led to delays in shipments.

Revenue was up 9.4% at 7,320bn yen.

Operating profit in the electronics division was up 250%, helped by strong demand for digital cameras.

Matsushita profit slide

Several other leading Japanese tech firms also posted results on Friday.

Matsushita Electric Industrial, the world's largest consumer electronics group, said net profit more than halved to 41.5bn yen in the year ended 31 March.

On an operating basis, profits were up to 188.4bn yen from 159.05bn yen.

The maker of Panasonic, Technics and National products also forecast strong profit growth for 2001/02.

Toshiba outlook grim

Toshiba, Japan's biggest computer chip maker, announced a return to annual net profit after last year's 33bn yen loss.

But shareholders' joy is likely to be short-lived.

Slumped demand for chips and personal computers led Toshiba to forecast a decline in net profit to 60bn yen for the financial year started this month, compared with 96bn yen in the year just ended.

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