The fortunes of Sony’s camera division have taken a turn for the better with a rise in first quarter sales and operating income for the period to June 30th. The company states in its latest financial report that higher value still and video cameras have helped it to achieve 27.3% year-over-year growth; however, that figure is inflated in part because the business was suffering the crippling effects of the Kumamoto earthquake this time last year.

Insurance payments from the earthquake have also artificially boosted operating income in both the camera and sensor businesses, with a 15.7 billion yen increase to 23.2 billion (an increase of 209%) in the camera sector and more than 41% growth in income for the sensor business compared to last year, thanks to booming smartphone sensor sales.

In fact, according to Bloomberg, as many as half of the world's phones currently house Sony sensors. When you multiply that by as many as three sensors per phone—dual cam on the back, one on the front—you begin to understand that 41% growth figure.

Forecasts for the fiscal year ending March 2018 have been revised upwards for the imaging business, with sales expected to hit 650 billion against this year’s 579 billion. Sales of semiconductors are also expected to grow from this year's 773 billion to 860 billion yen.

For more information see the Sony financial report on the company website.

Extracts from report:

Imaging Products & Solutions (IP&S)

Sales increased 27.3% year-on-year (a 26% increase on a constant currency basis) to 155.6 billion yen. This significant increase in sales was mainly due to the absence of the impact from the 2016 Kumamoto Earthquakes in the same quarter of the previous fiscal year as well as an increase in unit sales and an improvement in product mix reflecting a shift to high value-added models, both in Still and Video Cameras.

Operating income increased 15.7 billion yen year-on-year to 23.2 billion yen.
This significant increase was mainly due to the impact of the above-mentioned significant increase in sales, partially offset by an increase in selling, general and administrative expenses. Operating income for the current quarter included the above-mentioned 2.6 billion yen in insurance recoveries related to the 2016 Kumamoto Earthquakes. During the current quarter, there was no material impact from foreign exchange rate fluctuations.

Semiconductors

Sales increased 41.4% year-on-year (a 38% increase on a constant currency basis) to 204.3 billion yen. This increase was primarily due to a significant increase in unit sales of image sensors for mobile products, as well as the absence of the impact of a decrease in image sensor production due to the 2016 Kumamoto Earthquakes in the same quarter of the previous fiscal year, partially offset by asignificant decrease in sales of camera modules, a business which was downsized.

Operating income of 55.4 billion yen was recorded, compared to an operating loss of 43.5 billion yen recorded in the same quarter of the previous fiscal year. This significant improvement in operating results was primarily due to the impact of the above-mentioned increase in sales, the above-mentioned 27.5 billion yen gain resulting from the sale of the entire equity interest in SEH, and 6.7 billion yen in insurance recoveries related to the 2016 Kumamoto Earthquakes, as well as the absence of the 20.3 billion yen impairment charge against long-lived assets for camera modules and the net charges of 13.6 billion yen for expenses resulting from the 2016 Kumamoto Earthquakes recorded in the same quarter of the previous fiscal year. During the current quarter, there was a 2.5 billion yen positive impact from foreign exchange rate fluctuations.