As Sony earnings fall, can CEO Stringer last?

Sony (SNE) turned in another rough quarter capping a bad year. The company also said it faces a brutal 2009. For all of the last fiscal year, which ended in March for Sony, the Japanese consumer electronics firm lost $1 billion.

Sony's consumer electronics business lost money due to pricing pressure and low margins in its TV screen business. Its gaming division, which markets the PS3, also posted a deficit. Sony sold just over 10 million PS3 units, up 10 percent from the year before.

Howard Stringer, Sony's CEO, has not produced a formula for helping Sony weather the economic downturn. The company's TV and game businesses have not significantly changed their product mixes over the last two years. Stringer has been good at cutting staff, but that seems to be his only specialty.

Sony's board faces frustration about shareholder criticism and is probably under pressure to put a Japanese executive at the head of the company to lead a restructuring, perhaps by spinning off the firm's film studio, which has little relationship to its other businesses. Given Stringer's track record, that would be a popular decision.

Douglas A. McIntyre is an editor at 24/7 Wall St.

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