Sony shares rise on upbeat outlook despite fresh hacking of online info

SONY’S shares bounced from two-month lows yesterday as expectations were raised that it might have put its troubles behind it after it said this year’s operating profit would match last year’s, easing worries about the impact of the March earthquake.

In its first estimate for the year to March 2012, Sony said its operating profit would come in around 200bn yen (£1.5bn), prompting Macquarie to upgrade its rating on the stock to “outperform” from “neutral”. Morgan Stanley, Credit Suisse and UBS reiterated their “overweight”, “buy” and “outperform” ratings respectively.

Analysts said Sony had provided markets with a realistic view of the impact of the quake and a PlayStation network hacking incident, both of which had weighed on the shares. Sony expects to report a net loss of 260bn yen for the year ended 31 March, its third straight annual net loss, after writing of tax credits following Japan’s earthquake and tsunami.

The outlook came as Sony admitted its websites in three countries had been hacked, with 8,500 Greek user accounts compromised.

Sites in Thailand and Indonesia had also been affected, it said.

The Japanese entertainment and technology giant said data taken from Greek accounts included email addresses, telephone numbers, names and passwords but that credit card data had not been stolen in the latest attacks.

Sony has seen a series of hacking attacks that have exposed more than 100m accounts on its online gaming network to possible data theft.