TIME Turnarounds

How Sony Got Up and Out of Its Death Bed

President and CEO of Sony Corporation Hirai speaks at a Sony news conference during the 2015 International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas
Steve Marcus—Reuters President and CEO of Sony Corporation Kazuo Hirai speaks at a Sony news conference during the 2015 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Jan. 5, 2015.

For the first time in a decade, the electronics company has a shot

In the annals of consumer electronics companies that have slipped from great heights, none has taken a bigger fall far from its glory days than Sony. But after years of struggling to right itself, the company is finally making real progress on a turnaround.

Just as Apple helped revive itself in the early 2000s with the iPod, Sony built much of its success on the idea of helping people carry music around in their pocket–first with the transistor radio in the 50s and 60s and later with the Walkman portable cassette player. Those products, coupled with smart engineering, made the Sony brand synonymous with peerless quality.

In the early 2000s, Sony began to lose its competitive edge. Rivals like Samsung had emerged to undercut its higher-priced TVs and stereos. Sony couldn’t get a foothold in new markets like mp3 players. Its earlier expansion into new areas like insurance and its overspending on film and music studios left it with a structure that was at once bloated and siloed.

Sony named Howard Stringer as CEO in 2005 to turn things around. Stringer cut a charismatic figure, but couldn’t speak Japanese and, as a lifelong media executive, lacked an engineering background. Stringer tried to conjure a convergence of electronics and media properties that never quite gelled. (Stringer is on the board of Time Inc.) Meanwhile, further setbacks struck: the global recession in 2009, the Fukushima earthquake in 2011 and a stronger yen that hurt Japanese exports.

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Sony has posted net losses for six of the past seven years. As a result, the price of its ADRs traded on the NYSE fell from $55 in early 2008 to below $10 in late 2012. (An ADR is a stock that trades in the U.S. but represents a specific number of shares in a foreign corporation.) Its credit ratings eventually fell to near junk levels. But then things began to look up: After bottoming out below $10 in 2012, its ADRs have risen back near $33 this month, a rally of 238% in the last two and a half years.

The change came after Sony replaced Stringer with Kazuo Hirai in early 2012. Hirai was a Sony veteran known for wringing profits from troubled businesses like the PlayStation gaming division. And like Stringer, Hirai didn’t fit the mold of the Japanese salaryman. Hirai grew up in Japan and North America, giving him a fluency in English and also a gift for being plainspoken, like when he told the Wall Street Journal on taking the job, “It’s one issue after another. I feel like, “Holy shit, now what?”

Hirai began an ambitious restructuring of Sony over the three years that followed. He quickly announced a “One Sony” structure that built on Stringer’s convergence with an emphasis on communication and joint decisions among siloed divisions. He focused the electronics business on mobile, gaming and imaging products. Over time, he cut thousands of jobs, sold off the Vaio PC unit, separated the ailing TV business into its own company and overhauled the smartphone lineup.

All of this added to financial losses with restructuring charges and made for a tumultuous 2014. But the low point came last November, with the infamous hack that left sensitive documents from Sony Pictures Entertainment in public view. But it was just around this time when some analysts began voicing their conviction in a Sony turnaround. The turnaround painstakingly plotted by Stringer and Hirai was finally bearing fruit.

That became more evident when Sony reported its most recent earnings. There were encouraging signs in the past year’s finances, like revenue rising 6% and the TV business posting its first profit in 11 years. But the better news was in the cautious forecast for the coming year.

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The bulk of the restructuring was behind Sony, CFO Kenichiro Yoshida said, and while revenue may decline 4% this fiscal year, operating profit would rise fourfold to $2.6 billion, its highest profit since 2008. Hirai had earlier projected net income to rise above $4 billion by 2018, which would be its biggest profit since 1998, before the great fall began.

There’s still some restructuring to do. The revenue decrease this year will come largely from Sony’s move away from mid-range mobile phones to focus on the high end of the market. While camera sales continue to decline, Sony is seeing strong growth in imaging sensors used in smartphones. Overall, Sony will be a smaller company in terms of revenue but with bigger sales and slow, steady move from aging markets into growing ones.

A turnaround needs more than cost cutting and restructuring. Sony has a long road ahead to go from playing catch-up in technology markets to playing a leading role in new ones. That step requires a lot more work, but Sony’s return to profitability makes a major turnaround as feasible as it’s been in more than a decade.

TIME Internet

These TV Shows and Movies Are Coming to Netflix in June

beyond-the-lights-still
Undisputed Cinema Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Noni Jean in "Beyond the Lights."

From Beyond the Lights to Scandal to Orange Is the New Black

Summer: the season of going outdoors, enjoying the sunshine… and sitting inside catching up on TV and movies.

Netflix’s new June offerings include critically talked-about movies like Beyond the Lights, Nightcrawler, and Cake, along with new seasons of TV shows like Scandal, Pretty Little Liars, and Orange is the New Black. See what else Netflix is adding—and taking away—in June below.

Available June 1
The Aviator
La Dictadura Perfecta

Available June 3
The Best of Me
Hector and the Search for Happiness

Available June 5
Sense8

Available June 8
Grace of Monaco

Available June 9
It’s Tough Being Loved by Jerks

Available June 10
Pretty Little Liars, season 5
Nightcrawler
Rose Water

Available June 11
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., season 2

Available June 12
Orange is the New Black, season 3
Champs
The Cobbler

Available June 13
Scandal, season 4

Available June 15
Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer
Rodney Carrington: Laughter’s Good
Danger Mouse,
seasons 1-10
Bindi’s Bootcamp, season 1

Available June 16
Lee Daniels’ The Butler

Available June 17
Point and Shoot

Available June 19
Some Assembly Required

Available June 20
Cake

Available June 23
Advantageous

Available June 24
Beyond the Lights

Available June 26
Dreamworks Dragons: Race to the Edge
What Happened, Miss Simone?

Expiring June 1
Drugs, Inc.
Ever After
G.I. Jane
Ink Master
Rain Man
Silence of the Lambs

Expiring June 20
Collateral Damage
Practical Magic
Texas Chainsaw

Expiring June 30
Jack Reacher
Steel Magnolias
Taxi Driver

This article originally appeared on EW.com.

TIME Television

David Letterman Signs Off With 10-Year Ratings High

The Late Show with David Letterman outperformed all primetime telecasts for the night

David Letterman signed off on Wednesday night, putting the finishing touch on a 33-year career in late-night — the last 22 of which he’s spent at CBS.

Capping off several weeks of ratings spikes and two nights of five-year highs, the telecast was obviously up. The star-filled goodbye averaged a 9.3 local rating, hitting its highest score since December 2005. (That telecast brought a visit from friend Oprah Winfrey, who hadn’t visited Letterman since 1989.)

Full ratings for the telecast will be available later on Thursday, but as it stands, the 11:30 p.m. Late Show outrated all primetime telecasts for the night.

One fellow benefiting a great deal from all of this is James Corden. The new Late Late Show host has been hitting series highs for his brief tenure, rising last night to a 2.5 overnight rating.

This article originally appeared on The Hollywood Reporter.

More from The Hollywood Reporter:

TIME Television

Watch Conan O’Brien’s Emotional Tribute to David Letterman

Conan says having Letterman on his show was one of the highlights of his professional career

Conan O’Brien said something on his show Wednesday night that was rather strange for a television host. He told viewers to change the channel, and watch another host’s show instead.

The reason, as O’Brien said, was that Wednesday was “no ordinary night.” It was David Letterman’s last show, which aired during O’Brien’s segment.

“There simply are no words that can encapsulate the sheer magnitude of what Dave has achieved,” O’Brien said. “He’s been the North Star for me and for every comic of my generation.”

O’Brien spoke about the time Letterman came on his show while he was struggling early in his career: “It’s easily one of the happiest nights of my professional life,” he said, saying his career would not have taken off if not for Letterman’s visit.

That was when he told everyone to change the channel. “I’m going to let you know the exact moment when Dave’s show is starting,” he said, telling viewers to record his show so they could switch over to watch Letterman. “You cannot miss out,” he said.

Watch O’Brien’s emotional tribute above.

TIME Television

Watch Justin Bieber Sing Car Karaoke with James Corden

The Bieb also revealed how many times he wears his underwear in a row

While you were still crying over David Letterman’s late night departure, James Corden was asking Justin Bieber if he ever makes love to his own music. While the answer to that was a sad no, there were some other interesting revelations on Wednesday night’s Late Late Show.

In the clip, Corden and Bieber drive around Los Angeles, shouting out to fans on the street and singing along to Bieber’s hit songs “Baby” and “Where Are U Now.” In between all the singing and seat dancing, Corden managed to get some dirt on the singer, like the fact that he only wears underwear once before throwing it out. (As a Calvin Klein model, perhaps he feels he has to do his part to keep the company in business?) Bieber also showed off his impressive skills with a Rubik’s Cube, which has to be seen to be beliebed.

TIME Television

Jeremy Clarkson Says Being Fired From Top Gear Was ‘My Own Silly Fault’

The Top Gear presenter was dropped after attacking a producer

Jeremy Clarkson said that being dropped from Top Gear was “my own silly fault.”

The presenter spoke to BBC after losing his job in March after attacking a producer. “I have been at the BBC for 27 years,” he said. “When you emerge after 27 years, you find the world is changed. When you learn how the world works, you can start to work out what to do. In the meantime I’m getting really good at tennis. My forehand has improved immeasurably.”

Top Gear, a BBC car show, is watched by 350 million viewers worldwide according to BBC. The BBC will relaunch the show with new presenters. Meanwhile, Clarkson is beginning a “badly organized world tour” this week with his former Top Gear co-hosts Richard Hammond and James May.

TIME Television

Watch David Letterman Work at Taco Bell

"Are you Howard Stern?"

In his final episode of the Late Show on Wednesday night, David Letterman featured a blast from the past.

The clip below shows a much-younger Letterman take a stab at running a Taco Bell drive-thru, with hilarious results. None of the frustrated customers seemed to recognize Letterman’s voice, though one woman thought he sounded strangely familiar, asking, “Are you Howard Stern?”

The clip was a bittersweet reminder of what we’ll be missing out on as Letterman brings his 33 year late-night career to a close.

Watch it below.

TIME Television

Watch David Letterman’s Final Goodbye

"Thank you for everything, you've given me everything"

For the last time, David Letterman signed off from his late-night show on Wednesday night. Light on the jokes, but heavy on the graciousness, the Late Night host thanked his entire staff — including crew, writers and the band — for all they had done for the show. “These people collectively,” he said, “deserve more credit for this show than I ever will.”

Yet, in the middle of Letterman’s good-bye, bandleader Paul Shaffer summed up everyone else’s thoughts, saying, “Thank you so much Dave, you’ve changed our lives.”

Watch the full signoff here.

TIME Television

Watch Presidents Bid Farewell to David Letterman

“Letterman is retiring.....You’re just kidding, right?”

The late night TV host David Letterman took the stage for the last time Wednesday night, with a show that kicked off with tributes from four U.S. Presidents.

Footage of former President Gerald Ford opened the show, informing the viewers, “Our long national nightmare is over.”

They were then echoed by George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and President Obama.

“Letterman is retiring,” Obama added, before Letterman appeared next to him: “You’re just kidding, right?” he asked.

Watch the presidential sendoff below.

TIME Television

Watch the Foo Fighters Sing ‘Everlong’ for David Letterman’s Final Show

The late-night host says goodbye to his favorite song

Though David Letterman was dry-eyed throughout his final episode of the Late Show, the montage that played during Foo Fighters performance of “Everlong” ensured that no one in the audience was.

The song, which Letterman has previously declared a favorite, played over a video of highlights spanning the late-night host’s 33-year career, which included myriad stunts, countless interviews with celebrities and politicians and, most of all, lots of laughs.

Check out the performance below.

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