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Sony Japan credit rating slashed to ‘junk’ due to ‘loss of technology leadership’

Thursday, 22 November 2012 11:37 GMT By Dave Cook

Sony’s recent financials highlighted the poor performance of PS Vita and overall losses of 15.5 billion yen/$198 million. Today credit firm Fitch has cut the Japanese company’s credit rating due to its “loss of technology leadership in key products and the strong yen”, and issued a warning that aggressive restructuring would be needed to reverse its fortune. Get the report below.

The Financial Times reports from Tokyo that credit rating agency Fitch has slashed Sony’s credit rating down by three notches from ‘BBB-’ to ‘BB-’, citing the company’s lack of influence over the technology market, lack of strong products, the strong Yen, and fierce competition posed by Apple and Samsung.

Reuters suggests that the move came after Sony announced the sale of convertible bonds to raise 150 billion yen ($1.82 billion) to help fund its acquisition of cloud gaming service GaiKai.

Fitch’s official statement on the matter said that the firm, “Believes that continuing weakness in the home entertainment and sound and mobile products and communications segments will offset the relatively stable music and pictures segments and improvement in the devices segment which makes semiconductors and components.”

Head of corporate research at Fitch Matt Jamieson said of his firm’s re-appraisal of Sony, “This wasn’t an easy decision. But their reputations have been hit so much that it’ll take a long while to crawl back.”

The report highlights that Sony posted its seventh consecutive quarterly net loss in the three months to September, but speaking with Reuters, Masahi Oda, chief investment officer at Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank downplayed Fitch’s move and surrounding concerns.

He stated, “Both Sony and Panasonic are struggling to generate operating profits, but each is restructuring and I don’t envision the current situation continuing. A collapse of their core business would be a problem, but we are not at the point yet, and to me Fitch looks too negative.”

Despite claims of negativity, Reuters has added that Sony shares dropped by 4.4% in Frankfurt on Thursday, and that shares were worth 834 Yen at close of trading, falling close to the company’s 32-year low of 793 Yen which occured on November 15th. Overall Sony’s stock is down 40% for the year so far.

Fitch’s report states that Sony has been one of the worst seven performers on the Nikkei 225 stock exchange, after posting its seventh consecutive quarterly loss earlier this month. However, Fitch’s head of Asia Pacific technology, media and telecoms ratings Steve Durose suggested that the slowly weakening Yen could see the trend reversed.

Durose added that Sony’s inability to invest in new avenues will hamper its ability to create new “must-have products” that would see it competitive once again. The report projected Sony’s average capital spend over the next couple of years at $2.5bn, then compared it to those of Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics at $22bn and $5.5bn respectively.

Speaking of Sony and another victim of today’s credit-slashing Panasonic, Durose added, “Without a radical change to the structure of their businesses it is difficult to see profitability improving enough for them to regain investment-grade ratings.”

The FT report concludes, “BB ratings indicate that companies are vulnerable to defaulting on debt over time, but have sufficient flexibility for now to keep servicing that debt,” suggesting that Sony still has breathing room to try and reduce risk for the time being.

What do you make of Sony’s performance as of late? Is it in need of a shake-up, or will the next-gen see fortunes reversed? Let us know below.

Thanks NeoGAF.

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51 Comments

  1. G1GAHURTZ

    It’s the beginning of the end…

    #1 2 years ago
  2. KAP

    @1

    Really? There are divisions within Sony. Playstation is fine, and Ironically making loads of money for the company.

    #2 2 years ago
  3. Da Man

    Sony’s recent financials highlighted the poor performance of PS Vita
    Gaming division in it’s glory days..

    #3 2 years ago
  4. Dave Cook

    @3 I’m confused man.

    #4 2 years ago
  5. G1GAHURTZ

    ^ He was replying to #2.

    Indeed, the Vita is failing hard.

    #5 2 years ago
  6. Da Man

    Yep.

    #6 2 years ago
  7. Dave Cook

    @5 & 6 ah I see :)

    Yeah it’s a shame as the console is a nice bit of kit. It actually does have potential, but it’s not being used as such.

    I wonder if MM’s Tearaway will change things at all?

    #7 2 years ago
  8. Deacon

    @7 perhaps.. they need a boatload more content before it’ll start selling like it should, imo.

    Agree that it’s a nice bit of kit! – even more so with the recent update.

    #8 2 years ago
  9. sg1974

    @8 No way. Only a price cut will save Vita (cf. the latest iteration of the DS).

    #9 2 years ago
  10. Gadzooks!

    #1

    The beginning of the end began a long time ago.

    This is the beginning of the end of the end.

    #10 2 years ago
  11. Dave Cook

    @8 It’s odd that the game I still play the most is Lumines. PS All-Stars is fun, and LBP Vita is nice, but I’m not blown away by the games on offer.

    Also, Sound Shapes and Gravity Rush are neat, but not killer apps.

    #11 2 years ago
  12. sg1974

    @1, @10 – Don’t be so dramatic. Many companies have come back from worse positions. Apple was written off in the early-to-mid 1990s.

    #12 2 years ago
  13. absolutezero

    So thus far in the its almost dead list we have :

    The PC since forever
    Sony
    Nintendo
    Social games

    Anything else to add to post endlessly?

    #13 2 years ago
  14. Christopher Jack

    Sony have too much faith in their traditions, they really need to quickly evolve & go even deeper into merging their divisions.

    #14 2 years ago
  15. sg1974

    @13 Blu-ray died in 2010, apparently. Or so lots of armchair experts and “journalists” insisted a few years ago. Physical media generally is dead now. No-one uses it. At all. Anywhere. I was reliably informed that CDs would be dead by about 2005.

    @14 Very true. The company needs a big clear-out of middle and senior management, and dare I say it, more decisions need to be made in major markets such as the US and Europe.

    #15 2 years ago
  16. Digital Bamboo

    Oh shit, Sony. Korea’s poised to swoop in out of left field and steal the future out from under you, with their Smart TVs, cloud gaming & all those billions behind them…better watch your back & pick up your game. We may soon have a new contender.

    #16 2 years ago
  17. Gadzooks!

    #12

    Don’t you find the sand gets in your ears and up your nose? Or do you pop cotton wool wads in there before burying your head?

    Do you have a permanent sandpit built, or do you prefer a portable pit like a planter, or a big hat that you can use while you are out?

    Most importantly, how do you prevent cats leaving fragrant ‘treats’ in the sand?

    Genuine questions.

    #17 2 years ago
  18. absolutezero

    I’m so fucking hyped for the one console generation. Its going to be fantastic.

    #18 2 years ago
  19. sg1974

    @17 Ask me a grown up question that deals with the subject and I’ll happily respond as best I can.

    #19 2 years ago
  20. zinc

    Interesting times ahead for Sony, that’s for sure.

    @13, Rock & roll died awhile back apparently.

    #20 2 years ago
  21. Telepathic.Geometry

    Wow, Sony’s in that kind of shape and it’s buying GaiKai? @_o

    #21 2 years ago
  22. Gadzooks!

    #21

    Sony’s collapse was entirely hardware based. If they make Playstation a software-only venture using Gaikai as their platform, and decouple it from Sony corp then they can leave the hardware side of the business to it’s own devices (no pun intended) and at least that way the Playstation brand might survive.

    Gaikai could end up being their virtual liferaft.

    #22 2 years ago
  23. Christopher Jack

    @22, The Vita maybe doing poor & the home console certainly isn’t selling like it used to but don’t you think you’re jumping the gun by assuming that this is the last PlayStation, it’s already sold much more over time than the Xbox 360- if anything it’s the software side of things that need a huge revision, not that the current gen can go much longer regardless but still, it’s naive to believe that Sony won’t make a successor to the PS3.

    The rest of Sony is a different story where the hardware just isn’t selling- they simply can’t compete with the Koreans in those markets. Sony really need to sort out their TVs, cameras & mobile phones, etc before anything else if they intend on surviving.

    I personally think Sony could do well combining the PlayStation’s extensive library onto the Gaikai service & including it with their televisions, phones, etc, perhaps even make a successful PlayStation branded competitor to the Apple TV- among other set-top boxes.

    #23 2 years ago
  24. DrDamn

    Given the bulk of the R&D cost of the PS4 will already have been accounted for, and the Vita is out already, I could see the gaming division being spun off – hardware and software.

    #24 2 years ago
  25. Mike W

    Come on guys give it a rest, stop with your speculation and ignorant advice on what Sony should do. Sony is a huge multi-billion dollar company, they’re either going to pull through this or not, it’s as simple as that.

    #25 2 years ago
  26. monkeygourmet

    @25

    People are just responding to news, whats wrong with that? :)

    ____________________________________________________

    Sony need to do an ‘Apple’ with their hardware to get things back on track.

    They have FAR too many different devices that do the same job. They end up competing with themselves for the same market space, it’s such bad business.

    Because because parts are cheaper now doesn’t mean you should put about 200 different phone / tablet / TV / Laptop models out their.

    They need a smaller product line and maybe a new name to go behind the Sony brand.

    1 quality tablet (with yearly updates, basically iPad)
    1 good phone (iPhone style)
    1 TV (32″, 40″, 50″ to compete with Apple TV)
    1 Console brand (Playstation, already working)
    1 Laptop (To compete with Macbook)

    Basically they need to turn into Apple marketing wise and fast. There are far to many Sony products out there which become obsolete within months of you buying them.

    Sony just send products and games out there to die and IMO deserve all this trouble they are having. Sometimes less is more when it comes to hardware.

    Sony used to stand for quality. How can you expect people to believe your devices are well made when you keep shitting a new one out and abandoning the old ones every 5 minutes.

    Hardware needs to have a longer shelf life to grow.

    In this way, Apple have have become the new Sony.

    Apple Products are generally of a high standerd and have a good shelf life.

    Although iPad 4 is out, my iPad 2 still runs everything in the app store perfectly, they haven’t just dumped the product after the new devices came out. Thats how it should be.

    Im not a Sony hater, but I certainly wouldn’t stick up for there shitty business model. They deserve to get a hard time, maybe it’ll help them understand sending products like Vita out there with no support or marketing just doesn’t work…

    #26 2 years ago
  27. Joe Musashi

    “Im not a Sony hater, but..”

    JM

    #27 2 years ago
  28. monkeygourmet

    @27

    And you agree with nothing I said? Nice contribution numb nuts.

    MG

    #28 2 years ago
  29. woe

    Things aint looking so good for Sony.

    #29 2 years ago
  30. OlderGamer

    This just goes right along with I, and alot of others here have been saying. Nothing suprising. I personaly have been saying that Sony doesn’t make it through the next gen. The PS4 could kill the company if they screw it up. Could rebound them too, but given Sonys recent ventures(Vita, PSPgo, and even the launch of PS3), I have zero reason to think Sony will pull a rabbit out of its hat.

    I don’t think the entire company will fold, I just think certian division might get sold off, split up, restructured, or even shuttered. To a point where the words Sony and Games won’t really go hand in hand.

    #30 2 years ago
  31. Cobra951

    @15:

    Yes, the clairvoyant experts are all around us, aren’t they? But this story on Sony is the first I’ve taken seriously. That sounds ominous. I do hope they bounce back, even though I’ve skipped this Sony gen entirely. The competition will die out if they go away, and that’s always a bad thing.

    #31 2 years ago
  32. DrDamn

    @30
    Your predictions have been around the decline of gaming though haven’t they? If anything this is about alot of the other pies Sony has their hand in. Gaming and Cameras are the two areas they could spin off successfully.

    #32 2 years ago
  33. Mike W

    @33

    OG just want to see Sony tap out, I will respect him/her so much more if he/she would just come out and admit that. It’s nothing to be ashame about, I think the community here gets the tone from your comments that you strongly dislike Sony. He/she wants a market where it’s just the Big N and MS.

    #33 2 years ago
  34. Deacon

    @33 I’m pretty sure he doesn’t want them out. There are a couple of people here who act like they want that, but OG ain’t one of them.

    #34 2 years ago
  35. Clupula

    @33 – I really don’t think it could be more obvious.

    #35 2 years ago
  36. Mike W

    @34

    I could be wrong, but I doubt it. I’m not trying to attack the guy personally or anything. That’s just the tone I get from his/her comments sometimes.

    To stay on topic though, these type of articles only adds fuel to these pointless consoles war. Is this bad news for Sony?absolutely, but it’s the whole company as a whole….it’s not just their gaming division. These articles does nothing to benefit the community. It only brings out the stupidity and ignorance in some of us.

    #36 2 years ago
  37. DrDamn

    I don’t think OG is anti Sony as such. He just has some strong views on gaming, what he wants from gaming, and what’s wrong with gaming. Nintendo fit with those views nicely, Sony and MS not so much. That’s all.

    #37 2 years ago
  38. Dragon246

    Resident Xbots flaming sony- check
    Resident NDF members joining them – check
    Haters spreading hate – check

    Now, first of all, this is a bit of a sad news. BUT, sony IS NOT going out of business. So you can keep statements like
    “To a point where the words Sony and Games won’t really go hand in hand”
    to yourself please. The hardware manufacturer in worst condition is ninty, with biggest losses out of the big 3 gaming divisions. Sony has enough cash reserves to buy ninty lock, stock and barrel if they want (obviously it wont happen). Sony gaming division has the biggest operating profit out of the 3 cos, at 29m$, ms is at 19$ with ninty sitting with a big loss.
    Gaming sites are filled with fanboys with no financial knowledge, like many haters here. So in layman terms, sony is staying, no matter what haters say.
    If you think the biggest japanese consumer electronics company would die, you are sorely mistaken.

    #38 2 years ago
  39. Mike W

    @38

    The article is not spreading hate, it’s stating why Fitch downgraded Sony (as a whole, not just it’s gaming division) to a BB- status which equals out to a junk status. This may very well scare away new investors if Sony doesn’t bounce back soon, but the company is slowly recovering.

    I doubt if any commenter on here is an investor in either Sony, MS or Nintendo. So this news isn’t really for us gamers. The reason I hate seeing these articles on gaming sites is because it only fuels this endless (pointless) console war between PS3 and Xbox 360. 99% of these so-called gamers on here have no idea what Fitch is until recently. And all they see is “Junk” and “Sony” in the same sentence and the rest is history.

    It’s seems like this gen has been all about pixel counting, sales, and bombing the PS3 every single time the opportunity is introduced. So please guys, give it a fucking rest.

    #39 2 years ago
  40. monkeygourmet

    @39

    When people spend a lot on a product they tend to defend it.

    It’s the same with any consumer item, people have preferences. It’s always been the same, no biggy.

    It can be fun to pick apart the direction a company is or isn’t taking, it sparks debate.

    Of course you get trolls in all areas in life, but it’d be boring if we all just ‘got along’! :)

    #40 2 years ago
  41. Mike W

    @40

    I agree with you as long as its an intelligent debate, but you don’t get that here or any site for that matter. The stupidity from these fanboys this gen were just beyond human comprehension. Some sites capitalize on that (DF and Lens of Truth) and generate revenue off their stupidity with their so called professional Face-offs and Head to Heads.

    Staying on topic, I want to see Sony recover because I don’t want to see any of these manufacturers back out of the market. If it ever comes to that point it’s extremely dangerous for the consumer.

    #41 2 years ago
  42. TheOutcastWolf

    The Vita sure is the best hand console I ever bought, it’s like an overpowered Tablet, but its lack of games makes me unamused, although, I’ve seen great games such as P4 and Ragnarok, even though they aren’t exclusives to this console, they made good sells…

    Now, Sony announced FFX HD and a new game called Warrior’s Lair, which I hope it launches soon

    #42 2 years ago
  43. Dragon246

    @39
    I was referring to the smart-ass hating comments, not the article. Most haters here dont know a shit and hate sony just because they like to hate.

    @40
    “When people spend a lot on a product they tend to defend it.”
    Like your endless love for wiiu?

    Also Fitch never said Sony isn’t going to recover, they just said it will take longer than expected.

    #43 2 years ago
  44. Digital Bamboo

    I don’t know why some in this thread are calling for others to silence their opinions. They may not be experts, but so what? Even experts are wrong sometimes.

    For all the talk of “haters” I don’t see any hateful comments on here. I see opinions, predictions, and some possible solutions to Sony’s problems, and that’s about it. Simply acknowledging the fact that Sony might be in trouble, & trying to better determine the sources of that trouble is not the same as hating them, or wanting to see them go down.

    My own comment was pretty off-hand & was not intended to be taken overly seriously, but if you think Sony has absolutely nothing to worry about from Korean mega-corporations over the next 5-10 years, then you are extremely optimistic.

    I own every Sony game system except Vita, and a few of their other products as well. I don’t want to see them fail, but that doesn’t mean they haven’t been fucking up. Keep ignoring a problem & it doesn’t go away. They need to make changes, adapt. Buying GaiKai was a bold move, and potentially, a very profitable one. They need more bold moves, & less stubborness, if they want to recover from this and excel.

    #44 2 years ago
  45. DeyDoDoughDontDeyDough

    We are on the verge of GLOBAL economic collapse, and it is the people who supply our food who we should be most concerned about right now.

    #45 2 years ago
  46. ManuOtaku

    From a business stand point fo view, this is not good news, i wonder how much it costs to develop a new hardware console?, and if this will end up affecting the development of their new console, and also their overall strategy for next gen, i think this will change some things in the short term.

    #46 2 years ago
  47. Mike W

    @47
    Worst case situation, they will file for bankruptcy to get out of the TV and other divisions they are not so doing well in. The Playstation brand is bringing them revenue, I don’t see them dropping out of that market. We just have to wait and see.

    #47 2 years ago
  48. ManuOtaku

    #48 Mike Well iam more worried regarding how this is gonna affect in the short term their development of the PS4(or whatever is called) and their overall gaming strategy for next gen, of course bankruptcy is the worst case sceneario, that will be in the long term, therefore they can bounce back with a couple of hits, or a well done restructuration, i guess, i think the impact for this news will be more short term that long term IMHO.

    #48 2 years ago
  49. OlderGamer

    “I don’t think OG is anti Sony as such. He just has some strong views on gaming, what he wants from gaming, and what’s wrong with gaming. Nintendo fit with those views nicely, Sony and MS not so much. That’s all.”

    Pretty much spot on right there.

    I have a PS3, have been playing on Sony systems from PSx days. But I feel that right now Sony is stuggling. They have gone from industry leaders to trying to keep up. I know if you have been a long time Sony fan, then this transition is hard to stomach. Imagine how Sega fans felt after they bowed out of the console market? Or NEC fans, Atari fans, etc.

    Right now, I feel, the industry is poised for transition. In a major way. And I don’tt feel Sony has prepared well for that. I point to Vita, to PSGo, and even to PS3 launch as evidence that they don’t fully understand how the market has changed.

    Nintendo offer inexpensive and games focused aproach. And it works. MS has stated that people spend more time using “apps” on xb360 then playing actual games. And for them that works. Both of those companies will hang their futures on those strategies.

    While Sony has strugled with expensive(all be it nice) hardware that they have trouble gathering 3rd party suport for. It was genius and needed that Sony has been working so hard on building up their own IPs. The problem is that for all of their efforts, they haven’t sold as well as they would have liked. And that furthers my opinion.

    I don’t have a vandeta against Sony. But if you are a dedicated Sony fan, anyone critizing them is going to be hard to take. But right now, there is a lot of reason to critize. And really, Sony are the ones that put themself into this situation to begin with.

    #49 2 years ago
  50. Joe_Gamer

    Where’s your proprietary memory sticks now Sony?

    #50 2 years ago
  51. rbevanx

    Could be the next Apple in terms of shares…but I think not.

    #51 2 years ago

Comments are now closed on this article.

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