By Phred Dvorak
TOKYO-- SoftBank Group Corp. smashed profit records in its home country, riding a series of blockbuster initial public offerings to an annual net income of 4.99 trillion yen, equivalent to $45.9 billion--the highest ever for any Japanese company.
The results, which include a record profit of Yen1.93 trillion 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 Yen6.29 trillion at its $100 billion 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 Yen2.6 trillion investment gain from its nearly 40% stake in South Korean e-commerce company Coupang Inc., which listed in March. SoftBank also logged Yen945.9 billion in gains from the sale last year of a controlling stake in U.S. telecom company Sprint Corp. as well as a rise in the value of its remaining holdings.
SoftBank shares ended at Yen9,180 on Wednesday, 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 skepticism 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 Corp.'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 Inc. or Microsoft Corp., whose annual profit records are in the $40 billion range, the data shows.
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