UPDATE 1-Sony raises profit estimate as it counts asset sale gains

Thu Apr 25, 2013 5:13am EDT

TOKYO, April 25 (Reuters) - Sony Corp raised its operating profit estimate for the year that ended March 31 by three-quarters after it counted gains from the sale of its New York headquarters and other asset sales and revalued a stock holding, helping the TV maker cover losses in its consumer electronics business.

Sony, which also said it was being helped by a weaker yen that was bolstering the value of its overseas earnings, on Thursday estimated an operating profit of 230 billion yen ($2.31 billion) for the twelve months, compared with 130 billion yen it forecast in February. It doubled its net profit forecast to 40 billion yen.

Under its latest Chief Executive Kazuo Hirai, Sony is redoubling its efforts on consumer electronics, with a focus on mobile phones and tablets, cameras and gaming, but has yet to end losses from such products. The company's content business including movies and music are profitable, with income from its insurance subsidiary also helping offset its struggling electronics business.

The maker of Bravia TVs, which axed around 10,000 jobs in the last business year, in January agreed to sell its U.S. headquarters building in New York City for $1.1 billion, the highest price paid for a single U.S. office building in two years. It booked a gain of about $685 million from the sale.

Under the company's accounting rules such gains are booked as operating profit.

In February it announced the sale of one of its main buildings in central Tokyo for $1.1 billion, adding $412.58 million to its earnings.

In the same month it also booked a $1.16 billion gain after selling 6 percent of a group company, M3 Inc, a web-based service, lowering its stake to below 50 percent and in doing so turning it into an affiliate. That change in status allowed Sony to revalue the holding at a higher price.

More recently Sony in March offloaded its 13 percent stake in Japanese social gaming company DeNA Co. Ltd realising another gain of $413 million.

The company will release its full-year earnings result and forecast for the current business year on May 9.