For many technology companies, the past 12 months have been a roller coaster, starting with a pandemic-driven market-wide sell-off in March and ending with one of the largest stock market run-ups in history. But for Japan’s SoftBank, which manages the world’s largest tech investment fund, it has been an especially wild ride.
In an earnings report released on Monday, SoftBank notched more than $11 billion in profit for the three months that ended in December, driven by surging values for the company’s portfolio of holdings in companies like Uber and the food delivery app DoorDash, which have experienced whiplash changes in their share prices over the last year.
The result was a far cry from SoftBank’s position at the same time last year. Then, the company found itself in the midst of an epic slide that ended with its declaring an annual operating loss of more than $12 billion following investment losses on companies hit hard by the pandemic.
But what the market takes away, it can also give back. By the summer, SoftBank had already undergone a seemingly miraculous recovery thanks to the sale of tens of billions of dollars of assets and a hot stock market.
Since then, the market has grown hotter still. In December, the value of SoftBank’s investments in DoorDash and the biotech company Seer, among others, skyrocketed as investors piled into the companies’ initial public offerings as part of a broader frenzy for new share sales. A market rally in shares of Uber was also a major profit driver for SoftBank this quarter, it said.
In a triumphant earnings conference, SoftBank’s founder, Masayoshi Son, compared his company to the goose that laid the golden egg. In February of last year, the media was saying that the company was laying only “rotten eggs,” Mr. Son said. But this earnings report has proved the skeptics wrong, he argued.
“We have a turbocharger strategy to turn white eggs into golden eggs,” he said, adding, “Those golden eggs are laid not by chance but by plan.”
Investors so far seemed to agree. After a precipitous drop this summer, SoftBank’s share price has surged. The stock was trading at 9,485 yen, or about $90, per share in Tokyo by market close Monday, almost matching its highs in early 2000, just before the collapse of the first internet stock bubble.
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