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Sony

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of Japan, maker of the PlayStation video game and inventor of the Walkman, said Friday that quarterly losses nearly doubled because of the company's spending on its next generation PlayStation2 and the effects of the strong Japanese currency.

For the fourth quarter ended March 31, Sony's net loss widened to 36.7 billion yen ($339.4 million), or 81.6 yen a diluted share, from 19.4 billion yen, or 47.2 yen a share a year earlier.

Revenue rose to 1.66 trillion yen from 1.48 trillion.

Sony's financial results are partly a victim of the strong yen, which reduces revenue from abroad when converted into the Japanese currency. The company said that the average value of the yen was 110.6 yen against the U.S. dollar on March 31, 14.8% higher than a year ago.

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The Tokyo-based company is the No. 2 consumer electronics company in the world, behind its Japanese rival

Matsushita Electric Industrial

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, said the game segment recorded an operating loss of 25.8 billion yen compared with operating earnings of 4.3 billion yen a year ago. It posted revenue of 153.5 billion yen compared to 155.0 billion yen a year earlier.

Sony shipped 18.5 million units of the PlayStation hardware in the 1999-2000 fiscal year, a decrease of 14% from the year before, and shipped 1.41 million units of PlayStation 2 hardware, introduced in March. Worldwide shipments of PlayStation software, including both Sony and third parties under Sony licenses, totaled 200 million units for the year, an increase of 3% from the year before, while PlayStation 2 software totaled 2.9 million units.

Shares of Sony's American depositary receipts fell 4 5/16, or 2%, to 228 7/8 in Friday afternoon trading. (Sony closed down 7 11/16, or 3%, at 225 5/8.)