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SONY’S STREAM-POWERED Q2 (UPDATE)

Rob Stringer’s first year as Sony Music chieftain is shaping up as a memorable one indeed. While sales of image sensors used in smartphones are pushing Sony Corp. toward its highest profit ever, recorded-music revenues hit $984m in the quarter that ended 9/30, a robust 21.6% jump from 2016.

Just under half of that revenue—$478m— came from streaming, a 68% spike from 2016’s Q2. For the calendar year, streaming revenue has now inched past $1b for the company that houses Columbia, Epic, RCA, Sony Music Nashville and other labels.

Marty Bandier’s Sony/ATV also enjoyed a strong quarter, as revenues climbed to $176m, a 25% year-over-year increase.

In a key measuring stick for recorded music, physical and download sales were down around 10% apiece to $248m and $110m, respectively—meaning streaming growth is outpacing sales declines. That’s a concrete indicator of the music business’ incremental return to prosperity.

Sony Music’s operating income of $290m in the quarter was nearly double 2016’s tally, as sales were up 37.5%; DJ Khaled’s Grateful, Foo Fighters' Concrete and Gold, Calvin Harris' Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 1 and Arcade Fire's Everything Now were namechecked as significant performers, as were newcomers Khalid and French Montana. Sony is now forecasting a nearly 16% spike over 2016 for the fiscal year.

Sony is also forecasting a record profit of $5.57b for its fiscal year, which ends 3/31. If it holds, the company will break a record set in March 1998 when PlayStation launched and Men in Black was a box-office smash.

Sony’s overall profit for July-September hit $1.8b owing to the semiconductor division, a focus on gaming and recovery from earthquake damage. The multifaceted company has been also increasing its investment in artificial intelligence and is expected to launch VR projects involving music and film content as well as robots for the home. But what about robots for the office? No one is irreplaceable.

Investors responded immediately to the 10/31 earnings report out of Tokyo, sending Sony’s stock up 15% to a 52-week high of $45.24.

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