Sony Film Unit Profit Rises on 'Spider-Man 2,' '22 Jump Street' Box Office

Sony Corp. CEO Kaz Hirai

UPDATED: The company's gaming unit swung to a profit as film operating profit rose to $78 million, more than double the figure in the year-ago period when "After Earth" underperformed expectations.

TOKYO – Sony Corp. on Thursday reported improved financials for its fiscal first quarter ended June 30 as its film unit and video gaming business posted stronger results.

The conglomerate, led by CEO Kaz Hirai, said earnings rose to $265 million (26.8 billion yen), with pre-tax earnings up 51 percent to $677 million (68.4 billion yen). Operating income rose 97 percent to $691 million (69.8 billion yen), and revenue increased 5.8 percent to $17.92 billion.

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Film revenue increased 22.6 percent over the year-ago period, or 18 percent on a constant currency basis, to $1.93 billion. The company said that was "primarily due to a significant increase in sales for motion pictures…mainly due to higher theatrical revenues as the current quarter benefited from the strong worldwide theatrical performances of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and 22 Jump Street."

Film unit operating income rose 109 percent to $78 million, up  from $38 million in the year-ago period,  due to the better box-office performance, while the same quarter of the previous year included the underperformance of After Earth. The year-ago quarter also included a $106 million gain on the sale of Sony Pictures Entertainment's music publishing catalog.

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Sony Music saw revenue rise 4.4 percent to $1.16 billion, and operating income increase 5.7 percent to $113 million, driven by such titles as Michael Jackson's Xscape, Pharrell Williams' GIRL and John Legend's Love in the Future.

The gaming division returned to the black, logging a profit of $43 million on revenue of $2.55 billion, up 96 percent, thanks to the ongoing success of the PlayStation 4.

Despite the improved results, Sony is set to lose its place on the new JPX-Nikkei Index 400 for major companies listed in Tokyo that have the highest return on equity, operating income and market capitalization. The government-backed index was created in January by Japan Exchange Group, formed by the merger of the Tokyo and Osaka stock exchanges, to encourage companies to show better return on investment for shareholders.

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Sony is expected to be removed from it on Aug. 7 when the updated list is decided since it has posted losses in four of the last five years.

Sony also said late Wednesday that it was applying to delist its stock from the London Stock Exchange due to low trading volumes. It will remain listed in Tokyo and New York.

Twitter: @GavinJBlair