Sony forecasts profit to hold steady this year after return to black

TOKYO Thu May 9, 2013 2:15am EDT

TOKYO May 9 (Reuters) - Sony Corp said it expects operating profit to hold steady in the year to next March after rising to its highest in five years last year, as a weakening yen bolsters overseas sales and makes its consumer electronics business more competitive.

Sony this business year forecast operating profit of 230 billion yen ($2.33 billion). That compares with the average estimate of a 210 billion yen profit by 19 analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S, before Thursday's announcement of the latest earnings result.

Sony for the business year just ended posted an operating profit of 230.1 billion yen, compared with a 67.3 billion yen loss a year ago. The result was in line with the average 229 billion yen profit estimated by six analysts since the company raised its profit forecast to 230 billion on April 25.

Since the start of the year Sony's shares have gained 82 percent compared with a 37 percent rise in the benchmark Nikkei 225. Its shares fell 1.4 percent on Thursday to close at 1,744 yen before it released its latest forecast.