After years of financial troubles, Japanese tech and media giant Sony is aiming for record operating profits this year. The company has announced that it is targeting 500 billion yen in operating profit (around $4.5 billion) in the current fiscal year that ends in March 2018, which is close to the record operating profits reported in 1998. The company's CEO Kazuo Hirai didn't provide specific details on how the company is seeking to achieve its ambitious goal, though he mentioned that Sony's corporate divisions are expected to play a crucial role in those efforts. One of the divisions highlighted by the Sony CEO is its TV manufacturing unit that was losing money for more than a decade but returned to profitability in recent years. Another division that has recently reversed its fortunes is the company's smartphone unit, with its newfound focus on premium products that allowed it to return to the black. This fiscal year, Sony is expecting the smartphone division to post even better sales and increased profit.
Another corporate division that is expected to become profitable this year is Sony Pictures. The filmmaking subsidiary posted a massive loss last year primarily due to a one-time $1 billion writedown. To improve the division's profitability, Sony has taken a twofold approach to producing new content by investing in both sequels and original IPs. Meanwhile, its imaging business that focuses on camera sensor production is also expected to earn record revenues this fiscal year due to improved sensor sales prompted by the proliferation of dual camera smartphones and high-resolution front cameras. Its gaming business is also expected to see increased revenue due to its latest hit, the PlayStation VR. Last February, the company sold almost a million units of its VR headset and has cornered the majority of VR device sales in the United States and Japan.
Sony's route to profitability has been long and difficult, with a massive restructuring effort resulting in a significantly more streamlined company. The restructuring led to some of Sony's iconic businesses being either sold to other companies or spun off into independent business, with the latter being the case for its VAIO PC business. Many of the company's efforts have seemingly paid off, with the tech giant now aiming to beat its internal operating profit record that was set two decades ago.