A leaner business helps Sony narrow annual loss

(AP) -- Sony Corp. said Monday it likely booked a much narrower loss last year thanks to cost cuts and better electronics sales.

Sony expects to post a net loss of 41 billion yen ($440 million) when it reports Thursday for the fiscal year ended March 31. The result represents a big improvement from a 98.9 billion yen loss the previous year.

The Tokyo-based company, which has businesses spanning video games, , music and movies, also said it bounced back to an of 32 billion yen, in line with analyst expectations, after a 227.8 billion yen loss a year earlier.

Since taking over in 2005, Chief Executive Howard Stringer has been trying to unite the company's sprawling businesses, improve efficiency and rein in costs. His efforts appear to be paying off, with company leaner and more united as it prepares to launch a big 3-D push this year.

In its previous forecast released in February, projected an annual net loss of 70 billion yen and an operating loss of 30 billion yen. It Monday downgraded its revenue forecast to 7.21 trillion yen from 7.3 trillion yen.

Sony said electronics prices, including those of , did not fall as sharply as expected. It also managed to make bigger cuts in production and operating expenses.

Its "VAIO" computers and gaming products sold well, and its insurance unit benefited from a rise in the value of its stock market investments, Sony said in a statement.

Sony shares closed up 0.7 percent at 3,080 yen Monday.

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