Why Sony should quit the electronics business

Sony doesn't profit on electronics, so where does the money come from?
Written by Tyler Falk, Contributor on

When you think of Sony you probably think of their electronics -- cameras, TVs, Playstation. But the company is actually losing money on almost all of those products.

But Sony was profitable last year. How does that work?

It's most successful business, it turns out, is selling insurance.

In fact, Sony's financial arm accounted for 63 percent of Sony's total operating profit last fiscal year, the New York Times reports. It has been for some time.

Life insurance has been its biggest moneymaker over the last decade, earning the company 933 billion yen ($9.07 billion) in operating profit in the 10 years that ended in March.

Sony’s film and music divisions, which produced hits like the Spider-Man movies and “Zero Dark Thirty” and recorded musicians like the cellist Yo-Yo Ma and the electronic music duo Daft Punk, have contributed $7 billion to the company’s bottom line over the last decade.

Meanwhile, the company's electronics arm lost $8.5 billion during that same time.

In a new report from investment banking firm Jefferies, analyst Atul Goyal is blunt.

"We believe its #2 position in Insurance and Content creates all the value there is, with Electronics its Achilles heel and worth zero, barring the sale of brands like Playstation," said Goyal. "In our view, it needs to exit most [electronics] markets."

But don't expect Sony start pulling electronics from the shelves anytime soon. As NYT points out, the company's board is adamant about fixing its electronics business, even though, according to Jefferies, giving it up would nearly double the company's profits.

Sony’s Bread and Butter? It’s Not Electronics [New York Times]

Photo: Flickr/Rami

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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