CONSUMER ELECTRONICS GIANT Sony doesn't expect a good Christmas sales season this year, claiming the outlook is "murky".
Masaru Kato, CFO of Sony candidly told Reuters, "Looking at Europe and North America overall, the outlook is murky." If that didn't sound damning enough, he continued by saying, "We don't see any reasons for optimism." I think we can safely say that Christmas bonuses at Sony aren't expected to be anything to write home about.
Sony's wide range of products doesn't protect it from the falling Euro, meaning its products are more expensive in Europe. Kato said the firm has no "tricks" to help it guard against currency volatility and that switching manufacturing within the Eurozone would not help it against a rising Yen.
As for Sony's lossmaking TV division, which some had urged the firm to reform, Kato said there will be no major announcement on restructuring of that business unit. "I am sorry if we have given the mistaken impression that there is going to be some big announcement.... We are not thinking of doing that," said Kato.
While Kato might paint a picture of doom and gloom, it isn't panic stations for Sony just yet. The firm forecasts an operating profit of $2.6bn for the year ending March 2012, which is higher than many analysts' forecasts.
Many view Sony as a barometer of the global consumer electronics market. While the firm isn't a power player in mobile phones or tablets, due to it having fingers in markets such as consumer audio-visual equipment, laptops, movies, music and gaming, trouble for Sony usually means trouble for others.
Being fair to Kato, his comments are not all that surprising, given the current economic situation. After all, buying a new 50in telly is unlikely to be high up on the shopping list during a worldwide recession when consumers are more worried about their jobs. µ