Sony just released its earnings for the its first quarter, and it actually shocked a lot of investors and analysts. Despite the slowing gaming market, it posted record earnings thanks to its image sensor division. However, that may not be something that Sony can get used to and count on for the second quarter.
Some analysts are warning that Sony could be susceptible to the Huawei ban, when it comes to its image sensor division. This is because Huawei is a major image sensor client for Sony – which makes sense, seeing as Huawei is one of the largest smartphone vendors in the world right now.
While Sony is not a US-based company, the ban could mean that Huawei will be building and selling less smartphones in the second half of the year. Which would mean that Huawei is buying less sensors from Sony. Keep in mind that Huawei's flagship cameras do have about six cameras total now (four on the back and up to two on the front). So Huawei not buying Sony sensors is actually a really big deal.
Huawei did also announce its own earnings for the previous quarter, which saw smartphone shipments rise about 24-percent in the first half of the year.
Analysts at Jeffries are estimating that Huawei has accounted for about 15-20 percent of Sony's image sensor revenue for the previous year. Which isn't a small amount, but it may not kill Sony's revenue in that division as much as some might think.
Sony's image sensor division is actually pretty big. Some might think that it's just an image sensor, which is true. But the thing to remember is that almost every phone on the market, uses a Sony sensor on their cameras. Samsung and Apple are basically the only exceptions here. Samsung does use Sony in some markets and uses its own ISOCELL sensors in others.
The division posted about 49.5 billion yen in the quarter. That's up from 29.1 billion yen in the previous quarter. Meanwhile the gaming division's profit dropped about 9.6 billion yen. That's not a big surprise, but it is a big deal for Sony. Gaming is starting to slow now, as many are awaiting the next-generation consoles. But gaming is also Sony's most profitable division. The good news is that another division was able to pick up the slack.
As a whole, Sony announced operating profit of about 230.93 billion yen (or about $2.1 billion USD) for the quarter. That's up 18.4-percent from the same period a year ago. Analysts were expecting operating profit of around 173.61 billion yen, so it definitely surpassed expectations.
The Huawei ban is affecting more than just Huawei and its US partners. As we see here, it may also affect Sony, which is a Japanese company, if it is making less smartphones and buying less sensors from Sony. Though only time will tell whether that is actually what happens with Sony and Huawei. The ban has supposedly been lifted, but US companies are still not able to work with the company. The temporary permit to work with these companies does expire in a couple of weeks too.