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Sony Pictures swings to profit, thanks in large measure to TV side

July 30, 2009 | 11:53 am


Sony Pictures was one of the few bright spots in Sony Corp.'s glum fiscal first-quarter results. While the electronics and entertainment conglomerate lost $390.5 million, Sony Pictures, which includes the movie studio, television and international holdings, swung to a profit of $19 million, from a loss of $78 million, in the year-ago period that ended June 30. Keep in mind that Sony reports its results in yen, so that $78 million, given currency fluctuations, translates to about $87 million now.

Much of that gain can be attributed to the studio's sale of a portion of its stake in the Game Show Network cable channel to Liberty Media for $87 million (pure coincidence with $87 million above). The studio also got a boost from the sale of its films to cable networks. Revenues for Sony Pictures were up 15% in U.S. dollars to about $1.8 billion, thanks to the strong overseas performance of "Angels & Demons" and "Terminator Salvation" as well as ad revenue from India, where one of Sony's channels broadcast the Indian Premier League cricket competition.

Sony's positive entertainment news comes on the heels of tough quarters for Viacom's Paramount Pictures, which posted a 22% decline in revenue and lost $25 million. Time Warner's Warner Bros. saw revenue fall 9%, although it posted operating income of $143 million, a 52% gain, thanks in part to some pretty severe cost cutting and the surprise success of the "The Hangover."

-- Joe Flint

Photo: Sony Pictures studio in Culver City. Credit: Jill Connelly / Associated Press