Forget the PlayStation, cameras, TVs and phones – besides movies and music, Sony’s most profitable business is selling insurance.
The electronics giant has shaped the world by leading technological advances for decades – from video recorders, the Walkman to the PlayStation, Sony loses money on every electronic gadget sold.Today, Sony sells thousands of products – from batteries to 3D glasses.
But the figures reveal while Hollywood movies and music from some of the world’s biggest stars contributed £4.5 billion in profits over the last 10 years, electronics lost £5.5 billion.
The biggest surprise is the profits from Hollywood and music are dwarfed by those from selling car insurance, life insurance and health cover in Japan.
Effectively, just under two-thirds of the company’s profits over the last decade came from selling life insurance – which added up to a massive £5.75 billion.
Now, as Sony looks at a rescue plan for the electronics division, investors and analysts are saying why bother?
They argue Sony should stick to what sells best – movies, music and insurance and ditch the loss-making gadgets.
One investment firm has looked deeply into Sony’s global business and delivered a tough verdict.
“Electronics is its Achilles’ heel and, in our view, it is worth zero,” said analyst Atul Goyal, of investment house Jefferies. “In our view, it needs to exit most electronics markets.”
The markets echo the report – and suggest Sony is too slow to manoeuvre three separate industries and should concentrate resources more effectively.
Even though financial services are a big part of the business, the firm is losing ground to rivals in Japan and may need to look to the USA and Europe.
The thought may not just be a pipedream. Sony’s insurance partner is The Prudential – which has a strong grip on markets in the west.
That could mean your new car insurance could soon come stamped with the Sony seal of approval