Semiconductors Power Sony to Strong Q1, Studio Loses $86 Million

Pictures division grew 13 percent but was company’s only money-losing segment

sony earnings

Strong growth across its multiple business segments, particularly semiconductors, helped Sony report first-quarter earnings that blew past expectations, but its studio continues to lose money.

Late Monday PT time, Sony reported revenue of $16.6 billion and earnings of 56 cents a share for the three months ended June 30, which the company classifies as its fiscal first quarter. That was well ahead of the $14.9 billion in revenue and earnings of 15 cents a share Sony hauled in during the same period last year. It also topped analyst estimates, which were revenue of $15.2 billion in revenue and earnings of 48 cents a share.

Big quarters from business segments like semiconductors, which increased its revenue 41 percent, and imaging products, whose sales grew 27 percent, should help take pressure off Sony’s film studio in what remains a challenging time on its Culver City lot. Since it last reported earnings, Sony has brought on a new studio chief, tapping former Fox TV executive Tony Vinciquerra to replace Michael Lynton, who left to focus on his duties as chairman of Snapchat parent Snap Inc. And while the pictures division had its revenue jump 13 percent compared with the first quarter last year, driven by strong TV sales, it still lost 9.5 billion yen (about $86 million dollars), making it the company’s only unprofitable segment.

And while Sony had a couple notable summer box office successes with “Spider-Man: Homecoming” and “Baby Driver,” it’s still in fifth place among all major studios with 8.2 percent market share through July 23. To further complicate matters, Texas private equity firm Lone Star’s LStar Capital backed away from a $200 million slate financing deal with the studio earlier this month, as TheWrap exclusively reported. Its TV division also took a major blow, losing Sony Pictures Television Presidents Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg to Apple last month.

However, the studio looks to have better days ahead, starting with “Spider-Man’s” success — the film has reeled in nearly $634 million worldwide since its July 7 release. Earlier Monday, Sony announced that it had acquired a majority stake in anime distributor Funimation in a deal that valued the company at about $150 million and gives it some of the genre’s most popular titles, including “Dragon Ball Z”, “Cowboy Bebop” and “My Hero Academia.”

Investors are also giving the larger company a vote of confidence: Sony’s stock is up 47 percent year-to-date.