SoftBank Corp, the domestic arm of Japan-based multinational conglomerate holding company SoftBank Group Corp, reported that operating income for its third quarter ended 31 December 2019 climbed 15.1% year-on-year to JPY243.163 billion (USD2.22 billion) from JPY211.286 billion, underpinned by a strong performance from its mobile business. Third quarter revenue increased by 3.5% to JPY1.245 trillion, fuelled by a 4.3% rise in mobile service revenue to JPY426.425 billion on the back of rising smartphone adoption and a drop in monthly discounts. Meanwhile, EBITDA rose to JPY418.966 billion from JPY346.623 billion and net income (attributable to shareholders) edged up 0.5% to JPY109.213 billion, impacted by higher corporate tax related to the intergroup transfer of Z Holdings shares as part of an agreement to merge the subsidiary and Line. For the full year to 31 March 2020, the carrier has raised its operating profit forecast to JPY900 billion from JPY890 billion previously, on forecast revenue of JPY4.820 trillion (up by JPY20 billion) and net income of JPY480 billion. Further, SoftBank Corp has reportedly committed to pay out 85% of its net income as dividends, providing a steady stream of cash to its parent SoftBank Group Corp.
Operationally, SoftBank Corp closed out December 2019 with a total of 45.184 mobile communications subscribers (up 3.3% y-o-y), broken down as Main subscribers (35.927 million), Comms modules and others (7.504 million) and PHS users (1.753 million). Monthly blended ARPU increased 1.4% from JPY4,390 to JPY4,440 and churn improved from 1.03% to 0.86%. In the fixed line segment, SoftBank reported a total of 7.778 million broadband subscribers at end-2019, up from 7.522 million y-o-y, including 7.062 million fibre-optic users (up from 6.647 million) and 717,000 ADSL users (down from 876,000).
Japan’s three incumbent cellcos – NTT DOCOMO, KDDI (au) and SoftBank Corp – are holding their collective breath for the announcement of pricing plans from Rakuten Mobile, which will launch wireless services in April and is expected to offer aggressively low prices.