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Sony reclaims electronics crown after 15-year hiatus

Strength in gaming, music and film pushes market value ahead of Keyence

Sony expects to earn the bulk of its operating profit this fiscal year from gaming, music, film and financial segments.   © AP

TOKYO -- Sony became Japan's top electronics maker by market value on Monday, taking the crown for the first time in 15 years and three months thanks to a seeming lack of exposure to the U.S.-China trade frictions.

The company expects to earn the bulk of its operating profit this fiscal year from gaming, music, film and financial segments. Sony is "unlikely to be affected by a trade war compared with other electronics makers," said Ryosuke Katsura at SMBC Nikko Securities.

Sony shares climbed 4.44% to close at 5,692 yen Monday, for a market capitalization of 7.21 trillion yen ($65.2 billion). Sony edged past industrial device maker Keyence by 17.3 billion yen to take first place among electronics machinery companies listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange's first section. Keyence inched up only 0.12% to finish at 59,230 yen.

Sony has made clear it will not pursue scale for its cameras, televisions and other consumer electronics. That separates the group from the export-heavy manufacturers expected to suffer from the escalating U.S.-China trade spat.

"I don't perceive [Sony] as an electronics hardware company," said Yasuo Imanaka of the Rakuten Securities Economic Research Institute.

Sony expects its gaming segment to account for 28% of operating profit for the year ending March 2019, with music and film seen contributing a combined 23%. 

Meanwhile, concerns abound for Keyence.

"Automation investments for factories had been going very well until last year, but uncertainties about future prospects have emerged," said an official at an asset management company.

The company's low dividend has also turned off investors.

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