Does Sony Have Long-Term Growth Potential?
Sony (NYSE:SNE) traded up over 6 percent for the second day in a row on Friday. The Tokyo-based electronics company spiked close to 6.3 percent higher on Thursday following news that it would hang on to its profit-making Sony Pictures division. On Friday, the stock is on the move after announcing that it will sell its Manhattan headquarters for $1.1 billion.
Sony will net about $770 million from the deal after costs, and will continue to lease space in the building for at least three years in order to house its music and movie divisions. Reports indicate that Sony is selling the property for as much as four times more than it paid, a huge win for new CEO Kazuo Hirai.
Hirai has the monumental task of turning the electronics giant around after years of earnings, revenue, and stock-price decreases. Sony has been unable to compete with many Chinese and Korean electronic firms on a cost basis. Koninklijke Philips Electronics (NYSE:PHG), a European-based competitor, has seen its stock price climb nearly 50 percent year on year, where Sony’s is off over 30 percent. Other competitors like Panasonic (NYSE:PC) have also suffered, but not as much.
It’s clearly not all bad news for Sony, though. The stock’s most-recent gains come after a generally positive December, and some observers see upside on the back of Japan’s new round of stimulus spending…
Japan’s new Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, recently unveiled a massive 10.3 trillion yen ($116 billion) stimulus package. Japan’s economy, the third-largest in the world, has been in and out of contraction several times over the past few years. The country’s unemployment rate remains low at 4.1 percent, but the nation faces a tremendous debt load as high as 200 percent of its GDP.
In order to curb slow GDP growth, the country is adopting a Bernanke-esque stimulus strategy, doubling its inflation target to 2 percent and trying to push down the value of its currency. The result will, hopefully, not just stimulate the domestic economy through tremendous government spending, but increase exports.
A weak yen could be a boon to companies like Sony and Toyota (NYSE:TM), which rely on the U.S. for a huge portion of their sales. Combined with smart new management, the company could finally find itself rebounding from its historic lows.
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