SoftBank third-quarter profit up 24% in first post-IPO earnings

Seven analysts recommend or strongly recommend buying the SoftBank shares, whereas six suggest holding or selling. (Reuters)
Updated 05 February 2019

SoftBank third-quarter profit up 24% in first post-IPO earnings

  • The results cover a turbulent three months at SoftBank
  • SoftBank maintained its forecast for operating profit to rise 10 percent to ¥700 billion for the year through March

TOKYO: SoftBank Corp, Japan’s third-largest mobile phone network provider, said on Tuesday operating profit rose 24 percent in its third quarter on growing wireless sales, in its first earnings report as a public company.
With concerns over a changing mobile market keeping its shares well below their blockbuster IPO price, investors are looking for reassurance that the telco can keep its promise of paying 85 percent of annual profit in dividends.
Others are looking for any hint of the health of majority shareholder SoftBank Group Corp, which relies on the telco’s cash to fund investments.
Operating profit was ¥191.6 billion ($1.74 billion) in October-December, compared with ¥155.1 billion in the same period a year earlier, SoftBank Corp. said in a stock exchange filing.
The results cover a turbulent three months at SoftBank. Over that period, the firm suffered a network outage, fielded ongoing government calls for lower prices, and faced scrutiny over its ties to Huawei Technologies — a Chinese company whose telecoms equipment Western powers fear could be used for espionage.
Pressure is set to continue in 2019 as market-leader NTT Docomo Inc. trumpets its annual “return” of ¥400 billion to customers and e-commerce firm Rakuten becomes the fourth major wireless carrier from October pledging low prices.
The quarter also saw SoftBank conduct Japan’s largest-ever IPO. However, the stock dropped 15 percent on its Dec. 19 debut from its ¥1,500 IPO price, leaving its overwhelmingly domestic retail investors underwater and cooling broader investor sentiment, finance executives said.
The stock closed flat on Tuesday ahead of the earnings, trading about 20 percent below the ¥1,600 average target price of 13 analysts compiled by Refinitiv.
Seven analysts recommend or strongly recommend buying the stock, whereas six suggest holding or selling.
Nomura Securities analyst Daisaku Masuno wrote in a report that SoftBank should be able to grow as market uncertainty fades through its strategy of appealing to heavy users through its industry-leading 50 gigabyte data plan while offering low-price plans through its Ymobile brand.
SoftBank maintained its forecast for operating profit to rise 10 percent to ¥700 billion for the year through March. That compares with the ¥691 billion average of 13 analyst estimates compiled by Refinitiv.


Lebanon removes banking secrecy rules to fight corruption

Updated 28 May 2020

Lebanon removes banking secrecy rules to fight corruption

  • The move opens the way for investigations into bank accounts of current and former officials such as Cabinet ministers

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s parliament approved on Thursday a law to remove decades-old banking secrecy rules in order to better fight rampant corruption that has pushed the country to the edge of economic collapse.
The move opens the way for investigations into bank accounts of current and former officials such as Cabinet ministers, legislators and civil servants, state-run National News Agency reported.
The restoration of stolen public money in the corruption-plagued nation has been a key demand of protesters who have been demonstrating since mid-October against Lebanon’s ruling elite, which they blame for widespread corruption and mismanagement.
The approval of the law came two months after the Cabinet approved a draft resolution to abolish the country’s banking secrecy laws, which have turned tiny Lebanon into the region’s Switzerland, attracting clients from around the Arab world who prized the anonymity its banks offered.
The new law gives powers to National Anti-corruption Commission and a Special Investigative Committee at the central bank to investigate bank account of officials, the report said.
For Thursday’s session, Lebanese lawmakers convened inside a Beirut theater so that they could observe social distancing measures imposed during the pandemic. Dozens of anti-government demonstrators briefly clashed with riot police outside as legislators met.
As lawmakers in face masks arrived at the theater, known as the UNESCO palace, paramedics sprayed them with disinfectant before they entered, one at a time.
Lebanon has been facing its worst economic crisis in decades, with unemployment figures soaring and the local currency losing more than half of its value against the dollar.
After the banking secrecy measure was passed, Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri suspended the session until later in the afternoon when the legislators were to discuss a draft general amnesty law.
The amnesty issue has deeply divided parliamentary blocs, with Christian groups calling for pardoning Lebanese who fled to Israel after it ended its occupation of southern Lebanon in 2000, while former Prime Minister Saad Hariri and others want the release of hundreds of Islamists held as terror suspects.
Lebanon and Israel are at a state of war and some Lebanese who fled to Israel now hold Israeli citizenship. Scores of protesters demonstrated in Beirut and southern Lebanon on Thursday against pardoning those living in Israel.