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Sony Group CFO Totoki to succeed Yoshida as president

Sony Group is elevating Chief Financial Officer Hiroki Totoki to a position overseeing all operations, a move that splits the burden of running a Japanese giant spanning everything from chips to movies to insurance.

Totoki, 58-years-old, will become president and chief operating officer of Sony on April 1, the company said Thursday. Current president Kenichiro Yoshida will retain his positions as chairman and chief executive officer.

Totoki, who will remain CFO, leads the Tokyo-based entertainment and electronics group’s earnings calls and already plays a key role in helping define Sony’s strategy. The move is seen as helping the company better sustain and develop business initiatives put in place by Yoshida and his CEO predecessor Kaz Hirai.

“Sony’s longstanding problem has been that it can’t sustain what it has started. And Totoki is known as a steady operator,” said Waseda Business School professor Atsushi Osanai. “On the other hand, stakeholders also expect Sony to create new things, so it will be interesting to see what kind of team Totoki assembles and how he addresses that expectation.”

Later Thursday, in announcing its earnings result for the October-December quarter, Sony revised up its full-year profit outlook after earnings beat estimates, underscoring expectations for a gaming recovery.

The company raised its operating profit forecast to ¥1.18 trillion ($9.2 billion) from ¥1.16 trillion for the fiscal year ending March, with its key gaming division responsible for the hike. It also increased its net income outlook by 3.6%, but now anticipates slightly lower sales than previously forecast.

Sony said operating profit was ¥429 billion in October-December, while analysts had on average estimated ¥369 billion. Sales were ¥3.4 trillion, the company said.

Sony sold 7.1 million PlayStation 5 consoles over the holiday quarter. The company saw PlayStation Plus user numbers rebound after they dipped in the earlier quarter, though they were flat on a yearly basis.

“Given the current climate where demand is deteriorating around the world, it’s amazing that Sony’s earnings are in line with expectations,” said Morningstar Investment Service analyst Kazunori Ito. “How long Sony can keep up this momentum depends on how much hardware they can deliver. If they can continue this virtuous software-hardware cycle, which was not possible until last year, this could be a turning point.”

Chip supply issues that had bogged down PlayStation 5 console sales since its launch in 2020 have eased, the company said earlier this week. Improving supply of the console coincides with Sony’s release of God of War Ragnarok, the latest installment of the popular franchise.

The video game giant has said it will be able to better meet PlayStation demand this year and spur gamers to spend more on its network, as it seeks to counter diminishing game time when more players return to the office. Japan Times

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