Sony: No Plans to Exit Laptop-Battery Business

Sony Corp. (SNE) said on Tuesday it has no plan to withdraw from the battery business despite a wave of recalls by PC makers of Sony-made notebook computer batteries.

Besides Sony itself, major computer makers such as Dell Inc. (DELL) and Apple Computer Inc. (AAPL) are recalling Sony batteries, which in rare cases could catch fire from overheating. Up to 9.6 million batteries could be involved.

"The battery operation is a very important business for us. We have no intention of quitting it or scaling it down," Sony Executive Deputy President Yutaka Nakagawa told a news conference.

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Sony does not disclose the size of its battery business, but Morgan Stanley (MS) analyst Masahiro Ono said late last month he expects Sony's battery operation to post sales of 180 billion yen ($1.5 billion) for the year to next March 31, or 2 percent of its overall revenues.

Hit by the mounting recall costs and a widening loss at its game division, Sony last week slashed its full-year operating profit outlook by 62 percent.

The Tokyo-based electronics and entertainment conglomerate has set aside 51 billion yen for costs related to the recall.

It said on Tuesday it will recall about 250,000 batteries used in its Vaio notebook computers worldwide. It previously said it planned to recall 90,000 batteries in Japan and China, but did not specify the number to be recalled in other markets.

The announcement was followed by comments by Toshiba Corp., the world's third-largest notebook PC maker, that it now expects to recall 870,000 laptop computer batteries made by Sony, up from its previous estimate of 830,000 units.

Sony said, however, the new figure from Toshiba was included in its projection of a global recall of up to 9.6 million batteries.

Shares of Sony closed up 1.3 percent at 4,830 yen, outperforming the Tokyo stock market's electrical machinery index IELEC, which rose 0.51 percent.