Iconic TV maker Sony Corp is stepping back from producing its namesake consumer electronics and is, instead, raising approximately $4 billion in shares and bonds to become a component producer, in a much smaller niche: sensors.
Sony has not issued a new share in 26 years, and representatives of the company said on Tuesday that they will raise $2.62 billion from stock sales thanks to a doubling in market value. They expect to raise more from convertible bonds, which they will use to upgrade sensor output at its Japanese plants.
Chief Executive Kazuo Hirai is preparing Sony’s sensor business for the change. The company has not fared as well in consumer goods such as mobile phones, where tough competition from Samsung and Apple have left the company with little market share.
The image sensors are an important part of digital cameras and phones, and are one of Sony’s best products next to PlayStation. The production of these devices helped the company offset a decline in sales of other products.
The shift was a surprise for investors, who were afraid new stock would plummet. Yet the market value has risen, doubling since June of 2014, reaching almost $35 billion.
In a statement on the announcement, Sony said that “in addition to securing funds for active and concentrated investment in businesses that are driving growth. Sony ... aims to secure its ability to make future further investment.”
Making sensors will require more money, and Sony has already made expensive changes to pursue the lucrative market.
Despite the drop in share price, Takatoshi Itoshima, chief portfolio manager at Commons Asset Management, said that long-term investors felt good about the change.
“It’s positive that it is investing in the sensor business which is seen promising,” said Itoshima. “But short-term investors may question the strength of its balance sheet, or wonder whether the company could’ve slashed more of its businesses before raising money from the market.”
Sony’s switch from its consumer goods to sensor development will begin as soon as enough money is raised to help the company recover from its losses.