SoftBank lifts forecasts after strong COVID-19 performance

The Japanese mobile subsidiary of Masayoshi Son's SoftBank Group reported a 5.8% lift in operating income to 841.5 billion yen (US$7.99 billion) on 5.2% growth in sales for the first three quarters. Net income was flat because of impairments.

CEO Ken Miyauchi told a briefing Thursday that because of "high progress" during the year the company had lifted its full-year guidance.

Its revenue target is now 5.1 trillion yen, up 200 billion yen, operating income is expected to be 50 billion yen higher at 970 billion yen and net income has been raised 5 billion yen to 490 billion yen.

Easier streets: SoftBank has raised full year forecasts after a better than expected pandemic.  (Source: knowmadic media on Flickr CC 2.0)
Easier streets: SoftBank has raised full year forecasts after a better than expected pandemic.
(Source: knowmadic media on Flickr CC 2.0)

He said that as COVID-19 struck last year the operator had cut forecasts, expecting the pandemic would be "a huge negative for us."

In particular it had anticipated a fall-off in the core mobile business, "but actually it had picked up."

The new normal

The growth in corporate work-from-home was one of the biggest growth drivers, as was e-commerce demand arising out of "cocooning consumption."

The company had also benefited from winning a major government ICT project.

Miyauchi, 71, who recently announced he would step down in favor of CTO Junichi Miyakawa, said the company's future was in enterprise services and diversification to non-mobile.

Since 2017, the mobile subscriptions and data share of revenue had fallen from 38% to 27%.

The biggest revenue stream was now corporate and distribution, which includes corporate mobile, ICT solutions and products. Commerce platform Yahoo! and messaging service LINE made up the rest.

Business solutions grew 17% during the period while, by contrast, consumer mobile and broadband grew just 2.0%. with mobile service revenue declining 0.6%.

Among the enterprise segments, he cited both IoT and security, both of which had more than doubled from the previous year, and cloud.

"And this is before 5G. With 5G coming in, we can have explosive growth and that is where we are putting in much of our efforts."

Going to law

Miyauchi confirmed the company was considering filing suit against Rakuten over the alleged theft of its IP by a former employee.

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"This shouldn't have happened. Our trade secrets have been stolen by a fraudulent method. It's a very material case," he said.

He said the material reported to have been removed related to SoftBank's 4G backhaul network.

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— Robert Clark, contributing editor, special to Light Reading

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