outsider wrote:It would only help Marvel and do next to nothing for Sony (short of a huge payoff deal), so I could see Sony telling them to piss off.
Given Sony's recent financial troubles, especially with the entertainment division, it might be open to listen to a reasonable offer.
TOKYO — After tantalizing investors with signs of a financial turnaround in the spring, Sony said on Thursday that it swung back to a loss in its summer quarter as strong sales of smartphones were not enough to overcome a dismal performance by the company’s Hollywood arm.
The problems in Sony’s movie unit contributed to a net loss of 19.3 billion yen, or $197 million, in the most recent quarter, which ended Sept. 30. A year earlier, Sony posted a loss of 15.5 billion yen.
While Sony was expected to post weak results in the most recent period, the company surprised analysts by downgrading its outlook for the full fiscal year, which ends in the spring. The company said it now expected operating earnings of ¥170 billion, down from a previous forecast of ¥230 billion.
Adding to the company’s woes, Sony reported weaker-than-expected sales of televisions, raising concerns that the electronics division would continue to drag down results even if the movie business, which is more volatile, bounces back. That prompted a sharp sell-off in the company’s stock on Friday morning in Tokyo, where shares were down more than 10 percent at one point.
Atul Goyal, an analyst at Jefferies, said Sony ought to borrow a page from the playbook of another Japanese electronics company, Panasonic, which this week raised the forecast for its annual operating profit after getting out of most consumer electronics businesses and focusing on selling to other companies instead.
For Sony, “their electronics business is in a death spiral and the value is in an exit,” said Mr. Goyal, who downgraded his recommendation on the stock from buy to hold.
Investors have been looking for an increase in sales from the Sony PlayStation 4 game console, which is scheduled to go on sale in the United States and Europe this month.
“This set of results does remind that Sony without the PS4 or Xperia smartphones is still faced with a difficult situation profitwise,” said Damian Thong, an analyst at Macquarie Capital Securities.
In Sony’s fiscal first quarter, which ended June 30, the company surprised investors on the upside, as strong sales of smartphones bolstered its results. The mobile division did well in the most recent quarter, too, showing a sales increase of 39 percent, helped by the weakness of the yen.
But the motion picture division did poorly. The company was also hurt by lower revenue from television licensing and home entertainment businesses.
Sony’s Hollywood division has been the focus of Daniel Loeb, an investor whose hedge fund company, Third Point, owns a 6.5 percent stake in Sony. Mr. Loeb, in a letter to Sony management in May, complained about what he described as lax financial controls at Sony Pictures.
Sony’s board has rejected Mr. Loeb’s proposal for a partial spinoff of the company’s entertainment arm. Sony has scheduled a Sony Entertainment investor day for Nov. 21 at the studio’s headquarters in Culver City, Calif., following up on a commitment to Mr. Loeb by Kazuo Hirai, the Sony chief executive, for more transparency about the unit’s operations.
Before the recent downturn in the entertainment division’s results, investors focused their attention on the electronics business. The weakness in electronics persisted in the most recent quarter, when television sales were weaker than expected. While a weak yen has generally helped Sony, the company said a recent decline in the value of some developing countries’ currencies had, in turn, contributed to the weakness in TVs.
Mr. Hirai has made a turnaround in electronics a priority since he became chief executive last year, with smartphones featuring prominently in his plans. A new model, the Xperia X1, “has caused quite a stir globally,” Yoshinori Hashitani, vice president of investor relations, said in a conference call.
In the most recent quarter, Sony posted overall sales of ¥1.78 trillion, up from ¥1.6 trillion a year earlier, but the results were helped by the weakness of the yen, which increases the value of repatriated earnings from exports. In constant currency terms, sales fell 9 percent from a year earlier, Sony said.