Softbank logs record operating profit


Strong iPhone sales allowed Softbank Corp. to log a record group operating profit and KDDI Corp. to post firm profit growth from last April to December.

But NTT DoCoMo Inc., which does not market Apple Inc.’s hugely popular smartphone, saw its operating profit fall in the nine-month period, according to earnings reports the three cellphone carriers released as of Thursday.

Softbank reported robust sales of the latest-generation iPhone 5, launched in September, as well as the iPad tablet computer. Overall, the company’s mobile phone sales were up 4.6 percent to 9.42 million units compared with the same period in 2011.

KDDI’s smartphone sales meanwhile rocketed some 70 percent to 5.78 million units, although the au service provider saw its total cellphone sales drop by 8.1 percent. The decline was attributed to unusually brisk sales in 2011 amid strong demand for replacement devices spurred by a change in frequency band.

However, NTT DoCoMo’s general administrative and sales expenses ballooned as a result of the firm’s drive to prevent an outflow of users, impacting profits. But its mobile phone sales jumped to 17.57 million units, up 14 percent from the year before, as smartphone sales soared 75 percent to 9.69 million units.

All three companies enjoyed increased revenue from data communications thanks to the swelling number of smartphone users.

Son: Cut sun power cost


Softbank Corp. President Masayoshi Son, a major promoter of solar power business, sides with the industry ministry’s view that the purchasing price of electricity generated by solar power under a government program should be lowered.

Industry minister Toshimitsu Motegi earlier said the price at which utilities buy electricity from solar power plant operators could be lowered to the upper ¥30 level in fiscal 2013 from ¥42 per kilowatt in fiscal 2012.

Son said Thursday: “I support the economy and industry minister’s statement. Technology is advancing, and price competition is also intensifying with material procurement costs dropping.”

The price “gradually declining is what it should be,” he said at a news conference held to announce the mobile phone carrier’s quarterly earnings results in Tokyo.

Son is also president of SB Energy Corp., which is engaged in electricity generation using photovoltaic cell systems.