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Friday, 25 January, 2002, 06:16 GMT
Games boom drives Sony profits
A Sony Aibo dog
Sales of home entertainment products are surging
Surging Christmas sales of its Playstation 2 games console have helped Japanese tech giant Sony record its strongest earnings increase in company history.

The company unveiled operating profits of 158bn yen ($1.2bn, 824m) for the last three months of 2001, a 10% jump on the previous quarter, and well above its 120bn yen target.

Net profits were down quarter on quarter, at 64bn yen, but still beat estimates in what most analysts had said would be a lean year for the Japanese electronics firm.

The company was also helped by the weak yen, since the bulk of its sales are to the export market.

Happy holidays

Christmas trade, especially in the US, was much brisker than some analysts had expected.

More than 5 million PlayStation 2 consoles were sold over the season, with sales in Japan and North America running at twice the level of a year before.

Overall, Sony's games division recorded 48% annual sales growth in the last quarter of the year.

Sony gambled that the 11 September attacks would encourage US consumers to spend more time at home, boosting demand for its DVD, video, audio and games equipment.

In Sony's electronics division, double-digit percentage gains in sales of home entertainment products were offset by a slump in demand for its semiconductors and telecom products.

Music and movies slow

Less encouraging, however, were results from the firm's music and film businesses, which it expanded hugely in the 1990s.

Sales in both were almost entirely flat, and the firm admitted that some of its biggest box-office releases had been poorly timed.

Sales at Sony's film business were only supported by strong lingering revenues from older releases, notably "Crouching tiger, hidden dragon".

In music, the firm said, "weak industry conditions persist worldwide, digital piracy continues to escalate, and the September 2001 terrorist attacks in the US negatively affected market demand."

See also:

24 Jan 02 | Business
Games console 'boosts Sony profits'
20 Jan 02 | Business
Global PC sales slump
18 Jan 02 | Business
'Worst over' for tech sector
26 Nov 01 | Business
Sony launches console price war
01 Nov 01 | Business
Tech firms face months of gloom
25 Oct 01 | Business
PC makers hope for XP boost
18 Oct 01 | Business
Global PC sales continue to fall
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