Shares of Softbank Corp., the company that bought Vodafone Group Plc’s Japanese mobile phone unit, had their biggest drop in a month after Merrill Lynch & Co. told investors to sell the stock and forecast a loss this fiscal year. Softbank, the worst performer this year on the Nikkei 225 Stock Average, slid as much as 7 percent in Tokyo. Merrill analyst Yasumasa Goda said in a note today the company will have a 7.1 billion yen ($62 million) net loss, compared with a forecast for a 30 billion yen profit by Toyo Keizai, a financial information publisher.
The company, Japan’s second-largest Internet access provider, plans to revive Vodafone Japan’s earnings by investing in handsets capable of receiving television broadcasts as well as content including music and movie downloads. Softbank will also face increased competition this year as customers will be able to switch carriers without changing their phone numbers.
“Everyone expects future profit growth from companies like Softbank, but there’s no way to predict when that’s going to happen,” said Hiroyoshi Nakagawa, who manages $590 million at Societe Generale Asset Management Co. in Tokyo. “In the short term, Softbank’s fundamentals make it a very hard stock to buy.” Continue>>