SoftBank Group posts biggest quarterly profit of US$17.7b

Business | 13 May 2021 8:45 am

SoftBank Group Corp reported the highest ever quarterly profit for a Japanese company thanks to an unprecedented windfall from its investment business, Bloomberg reports.

Net income was 1.93 trillion yen (US$17.7 billion) for the three months ended March 31, the most for a listed Japanese company dating back to 1990, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Most of it came from SoftBank’s Vision Fund investment arm, whose 2.3 trillion yen profit was supercharged by the successful initial public offering of Coupang Inc in March.

Masayoshi Son’s investment business went from being the source of the biggest loss in SoftBank’s history just a year ago to the main driver of earnings. A global surge in technology shares has boosted Vision Fund profits to new records for three consecutive quarters, raising the value of its holdings in the likes of Uber Technologies Inc. and paving the way for public listings from startups such as Coupang and DoorDash Inc.

Son touted his performance in a press conference after the results, urging investors to back his strategy. He admitted to mistakes with startups like WeWork and Greensill, but argued that successes have more than made up for such missteps.

“I’m not overjoyed or depressed so easily, just stay calm,” he said, pacing a stage in Tokyo with a black turtleneck and matching black blazer.

His shares have recovered over the past year, in part because SoftBank spent about US$23 billion buying back its own stock. That helped push the stock price to its highest in two decades in March.

Son hasn’t said whether he will allocate more capital for buybacks, after completing the programs announced so far. Expectations were mounting that a new commitment would be announced along with the earnings today, but no such plan was unveiled. SoftBank fell almost 10 percent since Monday, it’s worst two-day performance in eight months.

 



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