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NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Sony Corp. (SNE) - Get Sony Corp. Report is said to be looking into the possible sale of its Sony/ATV Music Publishing unit, according to recently leaked emails, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Sony co-owns the music publisher, which owns the copy rights to most of the Beatle's songs, with the estate of late singer Michael Jackson.

The unit is the largest music publisher in the world and very profitable, sources told the Journal. Its estimated worth is between $1.5 billion and $2 billion.

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The Journal viewed the emails suggesting the sale, but added that the documents are unclear as to if Sony is selling just its stake in the unit, or if the entire business will be put up for sale.

Separately, TheStreet Ratings team rates SONY CORP as a Hold with a ratings score of C. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation:

"We rate SONY CORP (SNE) a HOLD. The primary factors that have impacted our rating are mixed some indicating strength, some showing weaknesses, with little evidence to justify the expectation of either a positive or negative performance for this stock relative to most other stocks. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its solid stock price performance and largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures. However, as a counter to these strengths, we also find weaknesses including feeble growth in the company's earnings per share, deteriorating net income and disappointing return on equity."

Highlights from the analysis by TheStreet Ratings Team goes as follows:

  • Looking at where the stock is today compared to one year ago, we find that it is not only higher, but it has also clearly outperformed the rise in the S&P 500 over the same period, despite the company's weak earnings results. Looking ahead, our view is that this company's fundamentals will not have much impact in either direction, allowing the stock to generally move up or down based on the push and pull of the broad market.
  • The current debt-to-equity ratio, 0.43, is low and is below the industry average, implying that there has been successful management of debt levels. Despite the fact that SNE's debt-to-equity ratio is low, the quick ratio, which is currently 0.59, displays a potential problem in covering short-term cash needs.
  • SNE, with its decline in revenue, slightly underperformed the industry average of 10.4%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues fell by 12.3%. Weakness in the company's revenue seems to have hurt the bottom line, decreasing earnings per share.
  • SONY CORP has experienced a steep decline in earnings per share in the most recent quarter in comparison to its performance from the same quarter a year ago. Earnings per share have declined over the last year. We anticipate that this should continue in the coming year. During the past fiscal year, SONY CORP swung to a loss, reporting -$1.22 versus $0.30 in the prior year. For the next year, the market is expecting a contraction of 27.0% in earnings (-$1.55 versus -$1.22).
  • The company, on the basis of change in net income from the same quarter one year ago, has significantly underperformed when compared to that of the S&P 500 and the Household Durables industry. The net income has significantly decreased by 531.9% when compared to the same quarter one year ago, falling from -$199.43 million to -$1,260.14 million.
  • You can view the full analysis from the report here: SNE Ratings Report

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