It's been tough for Sony during the start of the PS3's lifespan, but analysts are predicting their gaming division to bounce back…big time. According to Gamesutra , some analysts say Sony will report an operating profit increase of about 500% at the end of the company's next financial year, and the game division will experience a healthy recovery. Their current fiscal year's operating loss sits at an astounding 200 billion yen ($1.69 billion).

In looking at a recent consensus forecast, analysts have predicted a big increase in overall profits (400 billion yen, or $3.37 billion), with sales rising 6% to 8.7 trillion yen ($73.34 billion) for the year ending March 2008. These numbers come from the Japanese newspaper, Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun, which were then relayed to Reuters. The sharp rise, apparently, will be attributed to strong LCD HDTV sales in North American and Europe, and significantly higher PS3 sales for the game division increase.

And while the PS3 has slipped in Europe after a huge launch, it continues to enjoy mild success worldwide, with bigger success predicted for the rest of 2007. Analysts expect PS3 shipments to increase by 67% this year to 10 million units, thanks to better semiconductor production yields and other cost-cutting practices. However, bear in mind that despite this prediction, Sony has denied the 10 million unit figure. Therefore, it appears the company isn't banking on 10 million, but it's likely there will still be a PS3 shipment increase.

Lastly, in clarifying that stance to financial website Bloomberg, Sony hinted at the possibility of a new PS3 model "with a bigger hard disk" (a rumor that is already in circulation), but wouldn't go into details. For now, the future looks much brighter for Sony, in regards to both overall company position and game division profits.

UPDATE : Due to these predictions, the BBC reports that Sony stock has hit a five-year high. They closed the trading session yesterday up 2.7% at 6,510 yen.

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