Sony Ericsson’s results not too bad

Sony Ericsson has posted a third quarter loss of Euro 23 million, and stated its cost cutting plan was moving ahead as expected. This loss is lower than market predictions for the handset manufacturer, despite what the company has admitted are still tough market conditions. Forecasts for the previous year’s third quarter were for a pretax loss of Euro 72 million, and a pretax profit of Euro 384 million.

Units shipped in the quarter were 25.7 million, a sequential increase but flat year on year, while sales for the quarter were Euro 2,808 million, a decrease of 10% compared to the third quarter of 2007. Most of this decrease reflects the impact of exchange rate fluctuations, as well as a shift of the product mix to more lower priced phones.

Gross margin also decreased year on year and sequentially due to continued price pressure at a time of adverse cost trends in the supplier base. This was partially mitigated by the introduction of new products at the end of the second quarter, such as the C902 Cyber-shot camera phone, which is selling well, the company said; however, strong competition continues, particularly in Europe.

Income before taxes for the quarter was Euro 12 million, excluding restructuring charges of Euro 35 million, a decrease compared to the third quarter of 2007.

Average selling price (ASP) for Sony Ericsson decreased both sequentially and year on year, in line with levels seen in previous quarters. This is due to selling more lower priced phones and increased price competition in the market for mid- to high-end phones. Sequentially, market share for the third quarter remained flat and is estimated to be around 8%.

Dick Komiyama, president at Sony Ericsson, said: “As expected the third quarter has continued to be challenging for Sony Ericsson. We have moved forward with our plans to align operations and resources with the consolidation of R&D facilities into a more agile and cost efficient organisational structure. As previously announced, our target remains to reduce operating expenses by Euro 300 million annually by the end of the second quarter 2009, with the full effects expected to appear in the second half of 2009. These plans are progressing in line with expectations. We are committed to executing our alignment plan as speedily as possible to ensure we have the right size and organisational structure to return the business to healthy profitability.”
During the third quarter Sony Ericsson announced PlayNow plus, the next step in its music service offering. PlayNow plus is a high speed and high quality music download service for both the phone and PC that will launch in the fourth quarter with Telenor in Sweden with a special edition Sony Ericsson W902 Walkman phone integrated with the PlayNow plus service.

Further rollouts of the service are planned with other network partners around the world in early 2009.

Sony Ericsson also announced a number of new phones in the quarter, including three new Walkman phones, its first UMA handset (G705u) and the first models with integrated You Tubeconnectivity (W595, W902, G705). In addition, Sony Ericsson started a major marketing initiative to launch its first multimedia convergence phone under the new sub-brand; Xperia, and started shipping the phone, the Xperia X1, at the end of the quarter.