Five Charts Show How CEO Hirai Turned Around Sony in Five Years

Sony Corp. executives will meet with analysts and investors on Tuesday to talk about the company’s future. Here’s a look back at the five years since Chief Executive Officer Kazuo Hirai was appointed in April 2012, a period that saw shares more than double.

Hirai’s biggest accomplishment has arguably been the return to profitability in consumer electronics. The 56-year old has slashed costs in everything from televisions to smartphones while retreating from unprofitable businesses. But he’s also doubled-down on more research and development, a move that’s resulted in "fewer and better products," according to Macquarie Capital analyst Damian Thong.

Meanwhile, the sale of its Vaio laptop business and restructuring at other divisions has trimmed Sony’s global headcount by 37,400 to 125,300 as of a year ago, according to the latest figures available.

Among the growth factors has been the dominance of PlayStation 4. After losing to Nintendo Co. in the previous cycle of game consoles, Hirai oversaw the launch of the PS4 which outsold competitors and became a bedrock for the company’s lucrative online gaming subscription service.

Still, not everything has gone well. North Korea’s hacking of Sony’s pictures studio in late 2014 marked the division’s low point during Hirai’s tenure. The unit has struggled with a lack of blockbuster hits that resulted in a $1 billion writedown in February and last week’s appointment of new studio head Anthony Vinciquerra.

Macquarie’s Thong says there are three things to look for at Sony going forward: whether it can boost online subscriptions beyond games to movies and music, what partnerships it strikes to develop new films and intellectual property and how it progresses with connected computing devices or the so-called Internet of Things.

Look for that and more on Tuesday, when Bloomberg’s coverage of Sony’s investor relations day kicks off at 9:30 a.m. with Hirai’s opening speech.

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