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Video gamers play the latest from Sony Playstation 4 at Gamescon 2015 in Germany

FINANCIAL ROUNDUP: Sony, Panasonic Post Big Profits as Turnaround Plans Take Hold

Oct. 30, 2015
Plus more of the latest money news about automakers Fiat Chrysler and Renault, electronics companies Toshiba and Nintendo, and Mexican energy giant Pemex.

TOKYO — Two of Japan’s larger electronics giants booked soaring profits Thursday in a sign that efforts to fix their tattered balance sheets were finally paying off.

Sony kicked off the upbeat news by reporting a six-month net profit of almost $1.0 billion, crediting its PlayStation video game unit and smartphone parts business for a big improvement in its finances. Shortly after Sony’s announcement, rival Panasonic also said that its fiscal first-half profit jumped, as the firm presses on with a corporate shakeup.

Along with still-struggling Sharp, the pair has stumbled in the consumer electronics business that built their global brands, including losing billions of dollars in televisions over the past decade as they faced fierce competition from lower-cost rivals from South Korea and Taiwan. In response, the trio launched wide-ranging restructurings that have included layoffs and asset sales in a bid to restore their fading glory.

Sony said its net profit came in at 116.0 billion yen ($962.84 million) in the first half of its fiscal year, reversing a 109.2 billion yen ($906.39 million) loss a year earlier. It also reversed a year-earlier operating loss, although sales ticked down 0.3% to 3.7 trillion yen ($30.71 billion).

The strong earnings come a day after Sony said it would acquire Toshiba’s image sensor business. The deal could boost its position as a global leader in the sensors, which are key components of smartphones and other mobile devices.

Panasonic, meanwhile, said its six-month net profit soared 37% 111.33 billion yen ($924.07 billion), while sales ticked up 1.0% to 3.76 trillion yen ($31.21 billion), as it focuses on casting off money-losing businesses.

The company has shifted its attention to its lesser-known endeavors, including energy and an auto division that makes various products found in vehicles, from electrical components to car navigation systems.

However, Apple-supplier Sharp, which reports Friday, is still mired in losses. The Aquos-brand maker warned this week it was on track to lose nearly $700 million in the half-year through September owing to a slump in demand for its smartphone screens.

Fiat Chrysler, Renault, Toshiba, Nintendo and Pemex

FIAT CHRYSLER: MILAN, Italy — Fiat Chrysler said it suffered a third-quarter net loss of 299 million euros ($330.80 million), largely down to one-off items and recall issues, but operating results improved significantly.

The Italian-U.S. automaker had earned 188 million euros ($207.99 million) in July through September 2014. However adjusted operating profits jumped 35% to 1.3 billion euros ($1.44 billion), with a strong performance in North America and Latin American operations returning to profitability despite the difficult economic environment.

Net sales climbed 17% from the same quarter last year to 27.5 billion euros ($30.42 billion).

RENAULT: PARIS — A recovery in European markets helped French automaker Renault beat analyst expectations Thursday with a 9.4% increase in third quarter sales to 9.3 billion euros ($10.29 billion). On a unit basis, the group’s sales rose by 1.2% to 620,525 units, the company said.

Europe’s car market has finally started to recover after years of falling sales, helping its automakers weather a slowdown in emerging markets that have been the source of sales growth.

Renault, besides its own brands that include Dacia and Renault Samsung Motors, also assembles in its factories vehicles for its partners Nissan and Daimler. Over the first nine months of the year Renault’s revenues increased 11.2% from the same period last year to 31.5 billion euros ($34.85 billion).

TOSHIBA: TOKYO — Toshiba announced it will sell its image sensor business to Sony, as part of a wider overhaul in the wake of a huge accounting scandal. The Japanese engineering conglomerate did not say how much the deal was worth, but the leading Nikkei business daily pegged the figure at about 20 billion yen ($166.00 million). 

The sale could boost Sony’s position as a global leader in image sensors, key components in smartphones and other mobile devices.

The deal includes a transfer of 1,100 workers to Sony, which is itself overhauling its business after years of losses.

Toshiba last month reported a quarterly loss of $102 million, as it faced investors’ wrath over an accounting crisis.

NINTENDO: TOKYO — Nintendo announced its six-month sales jumped on upbeat demand for its 3DS handheld console and games for its Wii U system, but net profit tumbled.

The Kyoto-based firm also benefited from strong demand for its “Amiibo” figurines, which feature characters from some of its video games, and the Wii U shooting game ‘Splatoon,’ which was released earlier this year, said Hideki Yasuda, an analyst at Ace Research Institute in Tokyo.

A sharp decline in the yen has boosted the fortunes of major Japanese exporters, including Nintendo, by making them more competitive overseas and inflating the value of repatriated earnings.

Nintendo said revenue was 204.1 billion yen ($1.69 billion), up 19% from a year ago, but its bottom line shrank nearly 20% to 11.4 billion yen ($94.62 million), largely owing to a special gain booked in the year-earlier period.

PEMEX: MEXICO CITY — Mexico’s state-run energy giant Pemex posted a $10.2 billion loss in the third quarter, nearly tripling the hole it dug in the same period last year. The company said it fell deeper in the red due to falling oil prices and the peso’s slide against the US dollar.

The company posted a loss of 167.6 billion pesos ($10.13 billion) in the third quarter, compared to 59.7 billion in the same period last year. It is also nearly double the 84.6 billion peso ($5.11 billion) loss it reported in the second quarter.

Pemex said in its report to Mexico’s stock market that the price of Mexican crude tumbled from $90.42 per barrel in the third quarter of 2014 to $41.75 in the same period this year.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2015

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