Sony Trims Losses Thanks to Job Cuts, Jackson

Electronics giant posts fourth straight quarterly loss, but beats expectations.

Job cuts, plant closures, and Michael Jackson mania helped Sony Corporation beat analyst expectations for the second quarter — but the consumer electronics titan still suffered a fourth straight loss.

Sony reported $289 million loss on Friday for its July-to-September quarter. The company also improved its year-end outlook announcing it expects annual losses of $1.05 billion this year, instead of its initial estimate of $1.3 billion.

It has been a bruising period for Sony. Last year, it suffered $1.1 billion in losses, and this year it has continued to fester in the red, battered by sinking sales of televisions and cameras and the failure to produce a new blockbuster product line.

To reduce its bottom line, Sony is slashing 16,000 jobs and shuttering eight plants worldwide. In September, Sony announced it will sell 90 percent of its biggest North American TV-manufacturing site and outsource more of its production.

"The restructuring of our business is progressing smoothly on schedule," Nobuyuki Oneda, Sony’s chief financial officer, told reporters.

There were some green shoots to be found in the company’s quarterly report: Sony announced that it had benefited from strong sales of its PlayStation 3 game consoles and Michael Jackson’s song catalogue.

PlayStation 3 console sales rose 33 percent to 3.2 million units. By lowering prices for PlayStation units, the company managed to best sales of Nintendo’s Wii console in the United States for the first time last month.

Jackson has sold an estimated 9 million albums posthumously, coupled with millions of digital downloads. Although "This Is It" opened Wednesday with a softer than anticipated $20 million haul, it should still help stock Sony’s depleted coffers with its worldwide theatrical run and DVD release.

The company may need the help. Analysts predicted Friday that Sony would continue to suffer from a downturn in the consumer electronics market well into the next year.