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Sony cuts annual PlayStation, TV sales targets, books quarterly loss

The company, struggling through an ongoing restructuring, kept its target for a profit this year.

Sony on Thursday cut its global sales targets for key products including its PlayStation handheld consoles and TVs, but held to its goal of returning to profitability this year.

The electronics giant cut its target for portable game consoles, which includes both the PlayStation Vita launched last year and the older PlayStation Portable, by 17 percent. The company now aims to sell 10 million consoles this fiscal year through March, down from the 12 million it forecast in August.

Even with the cut, Sony's target is far above the 6.8 million portable consoles it sold last fiscal year. The company kept its target for PlayStation home consoles, which includes a new scaled-down version of its PlayStation 3, at 16 million.

Sony said it booked a 15.5 billion yen (US$190 million) loss in its second quarter ended Sept. 30, nearly half the one it booked a year earlier, while sales nudged up 2 percent. But the positive result was helped by special, one-time profits from an insurance payout for the Thai flooding last year and the sale of its chemical business.

The company said that while PlayStation Vita sales have been strong over the latest three-month period, sales of the PlayStation Portable and PlayStation 3 game console have faded, dragging down operating profit in its game division by 24 percent from last year.

Sony has now piled up 40 billion yen in losses over its fiscal first half, meaning it will need a strong holiday season to meet its goal of a 20 billion yen profit for the full fiscal year through March 2013.

The company is six months removed from booking its largest annual loss since it was founded in 1948, nearly US$6 billion for the year that ended in March of this year. That result, reflecting the company's long struggles to turn around its ailing TV business or generate hit products, was the last under former CEO Howard Stringer.

New CEO Kazuo Hirai has sworn to turn around the company by refocusing on the hit products that made it famous. He has also started a restructuring that includes selling off non-core assets, closing some factories, and reducing global headcount by 10,000 workers.

On Thursday, the company also cut its sales target for LCD TVs and personal computers. Sony has long struggled to make its TV business profitable, but refuses to abandon the field, and the product is now being managed directly by Hirai.

The company's turnaround plan has also involved some large investments, including $1 billion to upgrade its image sensor production and turning Sony Ericsson into a subsidiary.


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