Sony to Announce New Strategy Sept. 22

Japan's Sony Corp. (SNE) said on Monday it would unveil a long-awaited restructuring plan on September 22, aimed at turning around the struggling electronics and entertainment giant.

Sony, maker of Vaio PCs and PlayStation (search) game machines, had said it would announce a new strategy in late September to reallocate resources, suggesting it would look to trim its product lineup or downsize poorly performing businesses. Chief Executive Howard Stringer (search), the first foreigner at the helm of the Japanese electronics conglomerate, President Ryoji Chubachi and Chief Financial Officer Nobuyuki Oneda are scheduled to attend the meeting.

Welsh-born Stringer and Chubachi are faced with the formidable challenge of reviving Sony's core electronics division, which has been in the red for the past two business years amid intense price competition.

Sony is in the last year of a three-year restructuring plan that aims to slash 330 billion yen in fixed costs, mainly by cutting thousands of jobs in its electronics division.

But many industry analysts have said Sony would need to take more drastic measures to remain competitive with strong domestic rivals such as Sharp Corp (search) and a growing number of low-cost Asian manufacturers producing cheap electronics.

One area in need of repair is Sony's television unit, which lost 25.7 billion yen on an operating basis in the past business year on weak sales of traditional cathode ray tube sets and sinking prices of liquid crystal display models.

The inventor of the Walkman is also trying to regain its footing in the portable music player market where it has been outmaneuvered by Apple Computer Inc. (AAPL) and its popular iPod device and iTunes online music store.

Analysts said restructuring steps with little surprise could push Sony shares down as investors had already chased the stock higher in recent weeks in the run-up to the announcement.

"I don't see any steep gains. Chances are that investors will take the announcement as an exhaustion of buying incentives," said Masaaki Shimazu, chief analyst at Norinchukin Zenkyoren Asset Management.

"Having said that, withdrawal from some of its major product lines, such as stationary audio equipment, could be seen favorably in the market."

Sony shares have gained 7.3 percent since the start of the month, outperforming a 3.2 percent gain in the Tokyo stock market's electric machinery index.

Also on Monday, Sony Communication Network Corp., a wholly owned Internet services unit of Sony, cut its operating profit forecast by 61.5 percent as it stepped up a campaign to attract new broadband subscribers.

The subsidiary now expects its operating profit to come to 500 million yen in the year to March, down sharply from a 2.62 billion yen profit a year earlier.

Before the announcements of the date of the strategy meeting and Sony Communication Network's revision to its full-year outlook, shares in Sony closed unchanged at 3,970 yen, underperforming the electric machinery index, which rose 0.76 percent.