* Sony Q2 op loss at Y32.6 bln vs consensus Y55.2 bln loss
* Cuts annual loss f‘cast to Y60 bln vs Y68.8 bln consensus
* Panasonic Q2 falls 59 pct, boosts outlook by 60 pct
* Sony shares up 2.8 pct, Panasonic 3 pct ahead of results
(Adds closing share price, details, updates consensus figure)
By Kiyoshi Takenaka
TOKYO, Oct 30 (Reuters) - Sony Corp (6758.T) and Panasonic Corp (6752.T) signalled the worst may be over for the world’s two largest consumer electronics makers as they raised their full year outlooks, helped by cost cuts.
Sony posted its fourth consecutive quarterly loss in July-September, hit by sluggish cellphone sales and as it cut prices of its PlayStation 3 game console.
However, analysts noted signs of improvement in many units of the consumer electronics conglomerate.
“The initial impression is good. The results were lifted by an improvement in LCD TVs. Strong improvements were also seen in the financial business, especially Sony Life,” said Kazutaka Oshima, chief executive at Rakuten Investment Management.
“The outlook looks a bit brighter, but we need to watch whether its semiconductor business will pick up. I also feel positive about its outlook as Sony managed to narrow down its losses despite the yen’s strength.”
Sony cut its loss forecast for the year to March 2010 to 60 billion yen from 110 billion yen, slightly better than the consensus for a 68.8 billion yen loss in a poll of 21 analysts by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Sony swung to an operating loss of 32.6 billion yen in July-September from a profit of 11.05 billion yen a year ago, but beat the consensus estimate of a 59.2 billion yen loss.
Sony’s mobile phone joint venture with Sweden’s Ericsson (ERICb.ST) saw its sales tumble and losses balloon as it has lacked a strong smartphone offering to rival Apple Inc’s (AAPL.O) iPhone and Research in Motion’s RIM.TO Blackberry.
Sony recently launched a cheaper version of the PS3 last month to better compete with Microsoft Corp’s (MSFT.O) Xbox 360 and Nintendo Co’s 7974.OS Wii.
The move put pressure on Sony’s profitability, but spurred console sales ahead of the key holiday season, brightening long-term prospects of the struggling game operation at a time when Nintendo’s top-selling Wii console is losing steam.
Panasonic, the maker of Viera flat TVs and Lumix digital cameras, raised its full year operating profit forecast by 60 percent and posted its first profit in three quarters on robust sales of advanced DVD recorders and appliances.
Quarterly operating profit at the company, the world’s largest plasma TV maker ahead of Samsung and LG Electronics (066570.KS), came in at 49.1 billion yen, versus 118.6 billion yen a year ago.
Panasonic, which plans to buy Sanyo Electric Co Ltd 6764.T, the world’s largest rechargeable battery maker, to bulk up in hybrid and electric car batteries, raised its full-year profit forecast to 120 billion yen profit from 75 billion yen.
Panasonic has enjoyed strong domestic demand for its energy-efficient refrigerators, boosted by government subsidies to encourage ‘greener’ home appliances.
Ahead of the results, Sony shares closed up 2.8 percent, outperforming a 2.1 percent rise in the local electrical machinery index .IELEC.T. Panasonic rose 3 percent. (Editing by Anshuman Daga)