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Sony sells properties instead of electronics

– Sony Corp. President Kazuo Hirai is relying on selling real estate to make the company’s first profit in five years as he struggles to find products able to compete with Apple and Samsung Electronics devices.

Japan’s largest consumer-electronics maker posted an eighth straight quarterly loss and again cut sales targets for TVs, gaming devices and compact cameras.

It reiterated a forecast for full-year net income of $213 million, including gains from the $1.1 billion sale of a New York building.

“Having assets to sell is saving Sony,” said Mitsuo Shimizu, an analyst in Tokyo at Iwai Cosmo Holdings Inc. “It isn’t really clear yet what can start driving growth.”

The company narrowed its net loss to $116 million in the quarter ended December as the plunging yen cushioned a TV sales slump that also hit earnings at Sharp Corp. and Panasonic Corp. Hirai is shedding businesses, cutting 10,000 jobs and trying to revive a TV operation heading for a ninth consecutive annual loss.

“Sony is supposed to sell strong products that aren’t reliant on currency swings,” said Yuuki Sakurai, president of Fukoku Capital Management Inc. “We need to see those products before we’ll invest in Sony again.”

The company cut its sales forecast for portable game players in the year ending March to 7 million units from the 10 million predicted three months ago and the 16 million forecasted in May.

The TV sales outlook was pared to 13.5 million units from 17.5 million in May.

The electronics business faces a “tough environment,” Chief Financial Officer Masaru Kato said at a briefing. The company expects an 80 billion-yen loss at its TV-making operations this fiscal year.

The imaging and gaming divisions will have “significant” drops in operating profits, it said.