Sony financial report for Q3 FY2016 shows a better but still negative revenue growth at -7.1% for the quarter. Operating Income is still taking a hit from an impairment in the Picture segment and from the strong ¥en that is hurting exports, down -54.3%. Forecasts for the rest of the year are a slight improvement in revenue but further falls in operating income to come. Still, shares are up +5% on the day so not as bad as analyst had feared.
Cameras are our main interest here and how well Sony have done in what has been a very challenging year for the photographic equipment business. The effects of the Kumamoto Earthquakes were largely behind in this quarter but getting production up would still take time.
The Imaging Products and Solutions (IP&S) segment, Revenues are well down by -9.6% to ¥167.1b and Operating Income by -7.5% to ¥21.1b.
Digital camera unit sales came in at 1.6m compared with 1.8m the previous year for the same quarter. Given the poor results of the previous 3 quarters, it remains to be seen if any of this loss can be clawed back in the final quarter. Sales by value of still and video cameras with lenses are up from ¥80.8b in 2015 to ¥81.5b for the same period.
Taking market size data from the largest camera brand, Canon, the total size in 2016 of the fixed and interchangeable lens camera market was 26.5m units. Sony sold 4.2m units giving them 16% of the market by units. Canon on the other hand claim sales of 9.7m units or 37% of the camera market by units.
Full year forecast for the imaging segment are to improve camera unit sales up to 4.0M units but down from 6.1M units the previous year. The whole segment will improve current sales by value to ¥570b but down from ¥684b in 2015.
There is no doubt that the current volatility in the foreign exchange markets is making predictions very difficult. In November 2016 the rates for the rest of the financial year were expected to be ¥101/$ and ¥113/€. New rates are set to expect ¥118/$ and ¥123/€. It's simply a guess as to which will be more accurate but the later seem to be winning so far.
The global digital camera industry has seen huge problems in 2016 exacerbating an already shrinking market. Overall camera sales are down -31.7% year-on-year and Sony sales are down -31.1% so on the face of it Sony are just treading water. Revenues are down -18.5% while profits are down -29.5%. So some justification in a claim to be providing a better mix of products, but only just.
With further shrinkage in the market predicted in 2017 and intense competition brewing Sony need to be careful. A more coherent range of cameras may help them focus on customers. They perhaps need to look at Fujifilm and see how a company can steal a march on the competition.