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Sony records first profit in five years as asset sale policy pays dividends

Sony has posted its first annual profit in five years, thanks to a combination of aggressive asset sales and the bolstering effect of a weak Japanese yen on returns from export markets.

The Japanese consumer electronics juggernaut raked in a net profit of 43 billion yen (£280m) to 31 March, 2013 - a massive reversal of fortune for the firm, which reported a loss of some 457 billion yen (£2.97bn) in the previous fiscal year.

Sony attributed its apparent resurgence to the £1.6 billion pulled in via asset sales, which included the off-loading of its New York headquarters in January for $1 billion (£647.2m). The company also shuttered its 'Sony City' complex in Tokyo.

Indeed, the 43 billion yen net profit even exceeds the revised 40 billion yen forecast Sony issued back in April.

However, some analysts remain cautious about Sony's future prospects, saying that the asset sales inflated its profits this year.

Gerhard Fasol of Eurotechnology Japan, for instance, told the BBC that Sony's gains, "really need to be subtracted from the results, to understand the regular operating results."

It follows that a sustained improvement in sales of consumer electronics goods is necessary if the Japanese company is to enjoy a long-term return to profitability.

Nevertheless, the news will no doubt represent a major boost for Sony CEO Kaz Hirai, who has sought to restructure the company since taking the reins back in April 2012.

As well as recording its first profit in five years, Sony's 2013 highlight reel also includes the release of the Xperia Z - the water and dust-resistent smartphone has been well-received by critics and punters alike since launching in January.