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Sony reports quarterly loss, holds forecast to assess earthquake

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Sony Corp reported a fourth-quarter loss after booking a charge against its chip business and delayed giving a full-year forecast to assess damage from an earthquake that shut its main plant for camera sensors.

[TOKYO] Sony Corp reported a fourth-quarter loss after booking a charge against its chip business and delayed giving a full-year forecast to assess damage from an earthquake that shut its main plant for camera sensors.

The net loss was 88.3 billion yen (S$1.1 billion) in the three months ended March, the Tokyo-based company said on Thursday. Sony, which also recorded its first full-year profit in three years, will probably see annual net income in the current fiscal period climb to 212.2 billion yen, according to the average of estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

Slowing demand for smartphones has hit growth at image sensors, a business Chief Executive Officer Kazuo Hirai had been able to count on to bolster profits as he shifted away from consumer electronics.

Sony will have to generate more of its earnings from PlayStation 4 consoles, streaming services for its 50 million online users as well as movies and music.

The company's games and network services business reported a 5.1 billion yen profit in the quarter.

The company is looking to cement its lead over Microsoft Corp's Xbox One and Nintendo Co's Wii U consoles by launching a virtual-reality headset this year. The Playstation VR will be available to the more than 36 million people who already own a PS4 goes in October for US$399.

The company booked a 59.6 billion yen impairment charge for the business that makes camera modules, citing "a decrease in projected future demand".  Apple Inc, which uses Sony's CMOS sensors for its cameras, this week forecast its second straight decline in quarterly sales while the global smartphone market is projected to grow at the slowest pace on record.

Operations at its Kumamoto facility remained suspended after this month's earthquake on the southern island of Kyushu with some parts to reopen at the end of May. The company has said there's been damage to the building, clean rooms and equipment.

The facility is the primary manufacturing site for image sensors used in digital and security cameras as well as micro-display devices.

Global smartphone sales growth will probably slow to 7 per cent in 2016, Gartner Inc forecast in March.

While users in mature markets choose to hold on to their handsets longer, potential buyers in Asia-Pacific region may delay upgrading theirs until the functionality and pricing of low-cost devices improves and makes them more desirable, the researcher said.

BLOOMBERG