Sony reported mixed results for the first quarter of its fiscal year, ending June 30, 2019, with strength in its image-sensor business undercut by sales declines in its larger electronics and gaming divisions. [Figures have been converted to U.S. dollars at an exchange rate of $1 = ¥108.59.]
Profits were driven by big gains in the company’s semiconductor segment, which includes Sony’s much-in-demand smartphone image sensors. That segment generated operating income of $456 million (¥49.528 billion) on revenue of $2.12 billion (¥230.678 billion) in the quarter. That represents a healthy increase from operating income of $270 million (¥29.137 billion) on revenue of $1.86 billion (¥202.239 billion) in the year-ago period.
But Sony’s electronics business, which includes pro video gear as well as consumer products like television sets, was down year-on-year, bringing in operating income of just $230 million (¥25.066 billion) on revenue of $4.46 billion (¥483.915 billion) compared to operating income of $300 million (¥32.710 billion) on revenue of $5.23 billion (¥568.158 billion) last year. Sony blamed lower demand for TVs and smartphones.
And the company’s PlayStation gaming segment saw operating income decline to $680 million (¥73.804 billion) on revenues of $4.21 billion (¥457.461 billion). Executives noted that PS4 hardware sales are still strong, though they were slowed by news of Sony’s planned next-generation PS5 console, while both first-party and third-party software sales are softer than expected.
Sony Pictures was barely in the black for the quarter, squeaking out operating income of just $3.46 million (¥376 million) — but that was actually a turnaround compared to the same quarter last year, when the segment lost $70 million (¥7.601 billion). Results were driven by box-office returns from Men in Black: International along with higher television licensing revenue for catalog titles. (Spider-Man: Far from Home was released worldwide beginning on June 28, and so had only a small effect on results in the quarter.)
Results also improved at Sony Music, where operating income was up 19.2% for the quarter, reaching $680 million (¥73.804 billion), partly on the strength of Lil Nas X’s juggernaut “Old Town Road,” which has topped the Billboard Hot 100 for 17 consecutive weeks at this writing.