Sony Pictures just announced that the quarter which ended in September wasn’t a good one. It generated operating income of only $101M, down 61.8% vs the same period last year, on revenues of $2.1B, down 3.7%. Yet parent company CEO Kazuo Hirai this week issued a strong vote of confidence considering the studio’s financial anemia. He took the unusual step of going public to quiet the latest round of speculation that it’s just a matter of time before Sony sells the studio. (It took on new life after CBS chief Les Moonves told The Wall Street Journal that he’d be interested in looking at Sony’s production assets.) “There is absolutely no truth to rumors that Sony’s entertainment businesses are for sale,” Hirai says. “As I said at our strategy meeting in April, Sony is comprised of electronics, entertainment and financial services businesses, and our entertainment companies have a stable business foundation and are poised for future growth. There is no reason to sell these industry-leading businesses and no consideration is being given to the idea.” Biggest problem for Sony Pictures this last quarter was that the income from The Amazing Spider-Man was offset by disappointing results for Total Recall and comparisons to last year when it sold some Spider-Man merchandising rights. Sony says that sales and operating costs will be lower than it anticipated for the fiscal year ending in March because it recently decided to move its sci-fi thriller Elysium to August instead of March. Still, sales and operating income are expected to be up vs last year.
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