SoftBank drops operating profit measure, points to Vision Fund gains By Reuters

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A woman using a mobile phone walks past the logo of SoftBank Corp in Tokyo


By Sam Nussey

TOKYO (Reuters) – SoftBank Group Corp has broken with tradition by not disclosing operating profit in its earnings report, saying it was “not useful” as a measure of investment performance, and instead pointed to a Vision Fund gain of $2.8 billion.

Chief Executive Masayoshi Son has long pointed to the total value of assets as his preferred measure of success. The Japanese conglomerate plunged to a record operating loss in the year ended March following huge writedowns at the $100 billion fund.

Vision Fund’s 297 billion yen ($2.80 billion) investment gain in the April-June quarter was driven by the sell-down of assets and upwards revaluation of its portfolio, SoftBank said on Tuesday.

The fund is benefiting from a global rally in technology stocks and demand for listings, with portfolio firm Lemonade Inc making its debut in July and BigCommerce Holdings Inc’s shares popping last week. Further listings are planned.

As at the end of June, Vision Fund’s $75.2 billion investment in 86 startups was worth $71.5 billion. The portfolio’s value fell below acquisition cost in the fourth quarter ended March.

SoftBank provides little detail on how it calculates valuations. For the first-quarter’s gain, it pointed to sectors including e-commerce and food delivery growing during the coronavirus outbreak.

SoftBank said the fund trimmed stakes in four listed portfolio companies in April-June and exited three unlisted companies. It did not identify the companies.

Gains also came from the sell-down of assets such as wireless carrier T-Mobile US (NASDAQ:) Inc following its merger with peer Sprint.

Asset sales have raised 4.3 trillion yen, SoftBank said.

Chip designer Arm is also up for sale, media reported. The business has turned money-losing under Son’s watch, with losses deepening in the April-June quarter.

SoftBank has propped up its share price with a massive buyback plan funded by the asset sales.

Its shares ended down 2.5% ahead of the earnings announcement, versus a 1.9% rise in the benchmark index. The stock has risen almost 140% since March lows.

SoftBank reported a 12% rise in April-June net profit at 1.3 trillion yen.

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