SNE - Sony Corporation

NYSE - Nasdaq Real Time Price. Currency in USD
63.23
-0.70 (-1.09%)
As of 2:29PM EST. Market open.
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Previous Close63.93
Open65.25
Bid63.44 x 900
Ask63.50 x 900
Day's Range63.23 - 65.48
52 Week Range41.91 - 73.86
Volume971,002
Avg. Volume1,104,931
Market Cap81.273B
Beta (5Y Monthly)1.43
PE Ratio (TTM)13.29
EPS (TTM)4.76
Earnings DateN/A
Forward Dividend & Yield0.37 (0.58%)
Ex-Dividend DateSep. 26, 2019
1y Target Est83.66
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    (Bloomberg) -- Scarce components have pushed the manufacturing costs for Sony Corp.’s next PlayStation to around $450 per unit, forcing a difficult price-setting decision in its battle with Microsoft Corp., according to people with knowledge of the matter.The Japanese conglomerate is preparing to gradually replace the six-year-old PS4 console, releasing its PlayStation 5 the same holiday season its archrival debuts the upcoming Xbox Series X. Sony typically finalizes a console’s price in February of the release year, followed by mass production in the spring. With the PS5, the company is taking a wait-and-see approach, said the people, asking not to be named because the details are private.The PS4, released in 2013 at a retail price of $399, was estimated by IHS Markit to cost $381 to manufacture. With the $450 unit cost and a similar gross margin, the PlayStation 5’s retail price would have to be at least $470. That would be a hard sell to consumers, considering Sony’s most expensive machine now is the $399.99 PS4 Pro and is often discounted, according to Macquarie Capital analyst Damian Thong.“Consumers will benchmark their expectations based on the PS4 Pro and PS4,” Thong said. “If Sony prices above that, it would likely be to balance a need to offset higher materials cost, against risk to demand.”Sony declined to comment.The company’s biggest headache is ensuring a reliable supply of DRAM and NAND flash memory, with both in high demand as smartphone makers gear up for fifth-generation devices, according to people familiar with Sony’s operations. Samsung Electronics Co. just announced its Galaxy S20 product range, each variant of which will have 5G and a minimum of 12GB of RAM in the U.S.Videogame companies often sell hardware at thin margins or even at a loss because they profit from lucrative game software and recurring online subscription services. Sony’s Chief Executive Officer Kenichiro Yoshida has said the business should be judged by the number of active users, not the number of hardware units sold. Some Sony games staff think it should sell the new console at a loss if necessary to match Microsoft’s price, while other Sony executives would prefer to make money as the company did with the PS4.“We must keep PlayStation 5’s bill of materials under our control and we need to make the correct number of units in the initial production,” Sony’s Chief Financial Officer Hiroki Totoki said at an earnings briefing earlier this month.Most of the components for the console have been locked down, the people said, including the cooling system, which is unusually expensive at a few dollars per unit. Typically, companies would spend less than a dollar, but Sony opted to lavish more on making sure heat dissipation from the powerful chips housed inside the console isn’t an issue.The ongoing coronavirus outbreak has had no impact so far on preparations for PlayStation 5 production, they said. The company has yet to decided how many PlayStation 5 units it will make in the first year, they added.Separately, Sony plans to release a new version of the PlayStation VR virtual-reality headset, tentatively scheduled after the PlayStation 5 goes on sale, the people said.Sony has already canceled some previously planned features for a new mirrorless camera due this year owing to the constrained DRAM supply, several people with knowledge of the matter said.Sony executives are voicing patience about the next console’s pricing as they anticipate the transition to be a gradual one, said people familiar with its day-to-day operations. Many of the games launched for the PlayStation 5 will also be available to play on the predecessor machine, so revenue from software and related network services is expected to keep the business performance intact. Microsoft and Sony are both expanding their respective online subscription services, revenue from which may allow them greater flexibility on hardware pricing.People within the PlayStation business unit said a key factor in deciding the ultimate PlayStation 5 retail price will be where Microsoft sets its price for the next-generation Xbox Series X. Microsoft is widely expected to hold that information back until the E3 gaming expo in Los Angeles in June.There is pressure from CFO Totoki for Sony to provide more transparency and information in the buildup to the PS5’s release, which has caused some consternation internally. Asked about when he expects Sony to provide guidance on the gaming business outlook for the new fiscal year, Totoki said the plan is no different from the recent past, meaning the guidance can be expected around the end of April.If the company takes longer than usual, analysts may look to its next investor relations meeting to glean hints about the new console’s retail price. The company held that meeting in late May last year.To contact the reporter on this story: Takashi Mochizuki in Tokyo at tmochizuki15@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Edwin Chan at echan273@bloomberg.net, Vlad Savov, Peter ElstromFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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    The Robots Are Coming for Fund Management Jobs

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- Remember Aibo, the computerized dog Sony Corp. started selling in 1999 as the first personal robot? Hiro Mizuno, the chief investment officer of Japan’s Government Pension Investment Fund, does. So he asked Sony’s computer science lab unit to build him a cyberhound using artificial intelligence to help oversee the external fund managers who manage GPIF’s $1.6 trillion in assets.If the training program succeeds, the software watchdog could catch investors who are straying from their comfort zones, help screen potential portfolio managers based on their previous track records, and even distinguish between luck and skill in generating returns. But there’s a catch — and it’s a big one that’s not unique to this particular use of AI.The project, which Mizuno says is part of his experiments in improving the way money is managed, will run through March, but the Sony team recently issued an interim report.The system uses what Sony calls deep learning systems. It was initially trained on 1,000 stocks, using seven computer-generated investment styles including strategies that favor cash flows, dividend yields, and both positive and negative momentum to generate long and short positions. It was subsequently given actual portfolio data from GPIF’s existing external managers to analyze. Here’s where it gets interesting.One way the system tracks portfolios is by analyzing their self-resemblance over time, on the theory that a manager pursuing a particular strategy should stay true to whatever investment parameters the fund has deemed most likely to generate returns even as market conditions change.In one of its case studies, the Sony software identified a plunge in a fund manager’s self-resemblance measure that persisted for some time. Subsequent analysis found the shift in buying and selling patterns away from the norms previously observed reflected efforts to chase performance — in contravention of the fund’s stated goals.In another example, a fund stopped resembling its previous behavior and started instead to match one, then another, of the other funds being studied. The researchers conclude that the fund must have a policy of “opportunistically switching between different investment strategies based on market conditions.” While that may be a reasonable plan of market attack, it’s only legitimate if the fund is upfront with customers about its intention to zag and zig in its approach. Otherwise, such randomness should raise a red flag.Catching instances of style drift depends on comparing current portfolio selection with historical trading over lengthy time periods, involving the sort of data crunching that computers are much better at than human overseers.Sony also says the system can compensate for the very human tendency to focus on what’s going wrong rather than things that seem to be working fine. “The inevitable reality is that relatively worse-performing funds receive the most attention,” the report says. A fund delivering stellar returns but only by trading outside of its pre-agreed area of expertise may be storing up trouble for the future, a deviation that may go unnoticed by human overseers until profits become losses, but which the AI program can detect as style drift.  Japan’s GPIF has its own particularities including a reputation for being somewhat bureaucratic. The Sony researchers call its demands on its chosen fund managers as “onerous.” They suggest that automating the analysis by allowing the system to scrutinize existing investment behavior could pave the way for smaller firms to become available as potential candidates for inclusion in the fund’s roster of external managers.  So what’s not to love about a virtual guard dog written in code that can scrutinize how billions of dollars of assets are being invested better than a human can? The issue is that when it woofs, its handlers can’t determine the steps that triggered the bark — a problem known in AI research as the black box problem.As Sony says, potential users of its system have to “accept the operation of the neural network itself as a black box.” In other words, while the inputs and outputs of the system may be clear, what happens in between remains opaque. That’s not desirable for institutions such as GPIF, which are fiduciaries of the public interest and have an obligation to be transparent.Because of its size as the world’s biggest pension fund, GPIF is known domestically as “The Whale.” Sony’s hope, expressed in the research paper, is that its computer-driven augmentation will mean “cybernetic whale will be able to see what humans may not be able to see without the assistance of AI.”Mizuno of the GPIF went a step further at a seminar earlier this month at Oxford’s Said Business School, saying he’d like the programming to develop and mimic the style of the active investment managers it analyzes, basically computerizing the investment process. We’re not there yet, but the robots are coming for jobs in all kinds of areas of employment.To contact the author of this story: Mark Gilbert at magilbert@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Melissa Pozsgay at mpozsgay@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.Mark Gilbert is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering asset management. He previously was the London bureau chief for Bloomberg News. He is also the author of "Complicit: How Greed and Collusion Made the Credit Crisis Unstoppable."For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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