Blue Smurfs don’t keep Sony Corp. out of red ink

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Sony  Corporation

Sony Corporation

Despite the popularity of the partly animated “The Smurfs,” Sony Corp. announced Thursday a record annual loss of 457 billion yen ($5.7 billion), marking its fourth year of red ink in a row.

Although sales improved in Sony’s film business — helped by TV shows that it produced and home video sales of movies — profits dropped a bit. The Smurfs and the live-action Bad Teacher helped neutralize the effects of the failure of Arthur Christmas, co-produced with Aardman Animations.

The entertainment and electronics firm, maker of the Spider-Man movies, reported a loss of 255 billion yen ($3.2 billion) for the quarter from January to March. That’s Sony’s fifth straight quarterly net loss. The fiscal year has been the worst in the Tokyo-based company’s 66-year history.

The most recent losses were greater than those in 1995, after Sony made a bad gamble by purchasing Hollywood studio Columbia Pictures.

Worsening the picture for Sony was factory and supplier damage in northeastern Japan, were last year’s earthquake and tsunami caused widespread damage. The flooding in Thailand also caused production disruptions for Sony.

Chief financial officer Masaru Kato believes that entertainment revenue will improve this year with the release of The Amazing Spider-Man, Men in Black 3 and the new James Bond flick Skyfall.

Kazuo Hirai was appointed the company’s president last month, when he said that Sony would cut 10,000 jobs, or about 6% of its global workforce.

Sony shares have lost about half their value over the past year. They fell 1.2% to 1,213 yen during trading Thursday in Tokyo. Trading ended shortly before the earnings announcement.

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