Sony Sees Near-Flat Growth in Annual Profit Due to Quake Damage


Japan's Sony on Tuesday forecast operating profit to rise just 2 percent this business year, after the electronics maker partially halted production of its cash-cow image sensors last month to assess quake damage at one of its plants.

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Sony expects profit of 300 billion yen ($2.75 billion) for the year through March 2017, far below the 409.1 billion yen average of 27 analyst estimates compiled by Thomson Reuters.

Earnings at Sony have been revived in recent quarters, as brisk sales of its image sensors for smartphones mask slowing sales in other consumer electronics such as television sets.

The company had pushed back its forecast announcement from late April after deadly earthquakes shook the southern city of Kumamoto, home to one of its five image sensor plants. The company partially resumed operations earlier this month.

Sony estimated the impact from the quake on its image sensor and digital camera operations would total 105 billion yen this business year. It said the impact on the company as a whole would be 115 billion yen.

Sony forecast its devices division, which includes image sensors, to book an operating loss of 40 billion yen, compared with the previous year's loss of 29.3 billion yen.

Sony holds about 40 percent of the market for complementary metal-oxide semiconductor (CMOS) image sensors, a type of integrated circuit that converts light into electrical signals.

Its sensors appear in Apple Inc's iPhones.

Analysts said the quakes had little impact on the supply of sensors for iPhones because Kumamoto is not the main production site.

But they also said there could be delays to shipments of dual-lens camera modules, which Apple is widely rumored to be adopting for the high-end model of its upcoming iPhone 7. Modules bundle sensors, lenses and integrated circuit chips.

Sony also said, without elaborating, that the expected loss at its devices segment factored in a 30 billion yen loss from cancelling development of some camera modules.

(Reporting by Makiko Yamazaki; Editing by Christopher Cushing)