SoftBank smashes profit records for Japan-based companies

TOKYO— SoftBank smashed profit records in its home country, riding a series of blockbuster initial public offerings to an annual net income of ¥4.99trn, equivalent to $45.9bn — the highest ever for any Japanese company.

The results, which include a record profit of ¥1.93trn for the quarter that ended in March, cap a wild year in which the Japanese technology investor rode roller-coaster stock markets from the lows at the beginning of the pandemic to recent highs.

The numbers were driven largely by an annual investment gain of ¥6.29trn at its $100bn Vision Fund and its successor, whose portfolio companies have been listing in droves as the stock market soars. The Vision Fund’s biggest win was a ¥2.6trn investment gain from its nearly 40% stake in South Korean e-commerce company Coupang, which listed in March. SoftBank also logged ¥945.9bn in gains from the sale last year of a controlling stake in US telecom company Sprint as well as a rise in the value of its remaining holdings.

SoftBank shares ended at ¥9,180 on 12 May, nearly double their price a year ago.

SoftBank’s heady numbers are the biggest validation yet of Chief Executive Masayoshi Son’s decision a few years ago to shift the conglomerate’s primary business to tech investment from telecommunications—a decision viewed with scepticism for years, especially when missteps at the Vision Fund cost the company billions in 2019 and early 2020.

SoftBank’s fiscal-year profit is roughly double that of Toyota Motor’s record—previously the highest for any Japanese company, according to data from S&P Global Market Intelligence. It puts SoftBank’s earnings in a league with tech stars like Google parent Alphabet or Microsoft, whose annual profit records are in the $40b range, the data shows.

Write to Phred Dvorak at [email protected]

This article was published by Dow Jones NEWSPLUS