Sony CEO Says He’ll Move Quickly to Revive Electronics Business

Sony Corp. will move quickly to turn around its electronics business after the company posted four straight years of losses, Chief Executive Officer Kazuo Hirai told a shareholders meeting in Tokyo today.

“We take it seriously,” said Hirai, 51, addressing shareholders of Japan’s largest consumer-electronics exporter for the first time after becoming CEO on April 1. “We have to promote reform quickly.”

Hirai, who is trying to revive Sony after it reported a record loss last fiscal year under his predecessor Howard Stringer, reiterated a goal of making a profit from televisions in the year ending March 2014, ending nine years of losses at the TV unit. Sony will strengthen its main businesses including digital imaging, games and mobile devices, boost earnings from developing markets, expand its medical business and speed up innovation, the new CEO said.

Sony’s shares fell to their lowest in more than three decades in May after the company posted a 457 billion-yen ($5.8 billion) loss for the year ended March 31, as its TV unit continued losing money amid the strong yen, falling prices and competition from South Korea’s Samsung Electronics Co. and LG Electronics Inc. The Japanese company is projecting net income of 30 billion yen for the year started April 1.

Sony fell 1.4 percent to 1,087 yen as of 12:34 p.m. in Tokyo trading, extending its loss this year to 21 percent. The shares plunged 53 percent in 2011.

Revenue Target

The electronics maker aims to boost revenue to 8.5 trillion yen next fiscal year, with an operating margin of 5 percent or more, Hirai said today, reiterating previous forecasts.

“The only way to gain shareholders’ trust is to deliver results, one by one,” Hirai said. “Our strategies will be meaningless unless we show results.”

Sony has forecast its TV unit will probably lose about 80 billion yen this fiscal year as sales volume falls 11 percent to 17.5 million sets.

Global TV shipments fell last year for the first time since 2004, according to DisplaySearch, part of NPD Group. Flat-screen TV shipments in the U.S. may decline for the first time this year, to 37.1 million sets from 39.1 million the year before, according to IHS Inc.’s iSuppli.

Sony forecasts revenue will rise 14 percent to 7.4 trillion yen this fiscal year, helped by smartphones and portable game players. Smartphone sales may rise to 33.3 million units from 22.5 million and handheld game players including PlayStation Vita may more than double to 16 million units from 6.8 million, the company said May 10.

Shareholders voted today to approve Sony’s new board, consisting of 14 members including Hirai, Vice Chairman Ryoji Chubachi, Chief Financial Officer Masaru Kato and Stringer.

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