Profit Jumps at Sony

Sales rise 10%.
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Sony

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jumped as much as 18% on Thursday after the electronics giant reported strong gains in quarterly income and sales.

The Japanese company, which is in the middle of a turnaround effort after struggling with its electronics business for years, reported that sales rose 10% and net income grew by 18% in its fiscal third quarter from the year-ago period. The company's bottom line was boosted by a gain from the initial public offering of its Internet access business and improving results by some of its partially owned subsidiaries, but even without those benefits, Sony's operating income was up 47%.

Wall Street cheered the results, which were posted in the early morning hours on Thursday. In recent trading, American Depository Receipts of Sony were up $5.39, or 12%, to $48.68. Earlier in the session, Sony ADRs traded as high as $51.16.

In the quarter ended Dec. 31, Sony earned 168.94 billion yen (about $1.43 billion). That was up from the year-earlier period, in which the company earned 143.81 billion yen.

Sales rose to 2.37 trillion yen in the just-completed quarter from 2.15 trillion yen in the fiscal third quarter of the previous year.

The company's core electronics business showed improvement, as sales rose 5% and operating income jumped 56%. In a statement, the company attributed the results to increased sales of its LCD and rear-projection televisions and its line of Walkman digital music players. The division's bottom line benefited from reduced costs as well as favorable foreign exchange rates, the company said.

But the division isn't out of the woods yet. If sales were measured in local currencies, rather than in yen, the division's revenue actually would have fallen 2%, the company said. And while the division saw increased overall sales in the U.S., its sales in Japan and Europe fell.

If results from the electronic division were somewhat muddled, Sony's games business had a very positive quarter. Surging sales of the PlayStation Portable handheld game machine helped boost the division's revenue by 48% to 419.2 billion yen and its operating income by 52% to 67.8 billion yen. Sony shipped 6.22 million PSPs in the quarter, up from 510,000 in the year-prior quarter.

The company's overall bottom line included a 19 billion yen gain from the initial public offering of Sony Communication Network. It also included 19.5 million yen in net income from affiliated companies, including Sony BMG Music Entertainment, its music-publishing business, and Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications, which manufactures mobile phones.