Sony Corp said U.S. electronics sales are looking positive after the holiday season, even as the strong yen handicaps the Japanese conglomerate against South Korean and Chinese rivals.
Chief Executive Howard Stringer said Sony, which shed jobs, closed plants and sold non-core assets last year, is still looking for ways to control costs, even as it rolls out big initiatives such as 3D televisions, and TV screens made with organic light emitting diodes (OLED).
We are handicapped because of the recession in Japan, and we are handicapped -- as are all of Japanese CE (consumer electronics makers) -- by the high yen, which give us a disadvantage against China and Korea, Stringer said at a media briefing at the Consumer Electronics Show on Thursday.
While Sony is proud of its ability to innovate and deliver products such as its dash personal Internet device, he said the company still seeks a balance between development and cost controls.
The floor of CES is full of groundbreaking devices, several by South Korean electronics makers including LG Electronics Inc, which says it has increased market share in the United States.
Samsung Electronics on Thursday set an ambitious set of targets for this year's flat-screen TV sales, estimated to jump by around 30 percent from last year.
Acknowledging the currency headwinds, Stringer said Sony, whose TV business is in its sixth straight year of losses, will benefit from its recent moves to slash costs, and consolidate operations.
The pendulum swings both ways on that and we are getting our costs down considerably, he added. We are fighting it, we are fighting very aggressively and so far the roof hasn't fallen in.
Sony said on Wednesday that flat-screen televisions, electronic readers and Blu-ray video players had helped its U.S. holiday season sales top expectations.
Demand going into January is looking positive, Stan Glasgow, president and chief operating officer of Sony Electronics, said on Thursday. We think there is a chance of January, February and March being generally positive.
Shares of Sony rose 1.82 percent in Tokyo trading to 2,793 yen. On the New York Stock Exchange, it fell 5 cents to end at
Kaz Harai, chief executive of Sony Computer Entertainment Inc, said the company was very optimistic about meeting its goal of shipping 13 million PlayStation 3 units by the end of its fiscal year in a few months.
Sony shipped more than 3.8 million PlayStation units worldwide during the holiday season, a 76 percent increase over the same period in the previous year.
It has now shipped more than 30 million units since the PS3's debut in November 2006. That still trails the more than 50 million units of Nintendo Co Ltd's Wii that have been sold and Microsoft Corp's Xbox's 39 million consoles.
Sony in November pushed back an elusive profit margin target, saying that it now aims to earn a 5 percent operating profit margin and a 10 percent return-on-equity in the year ending in March 2013. Stringer had originally set the 5 percent margin target in 2005 for the financial year to March 2008 but the company narrowly missed it.
(Reporting by Franklin Paul; Editing by Tiffany Wu, Phil Berlowitz and Richard Chang)