Business / Corporate

Toshiba books first net profit in four years

by Shusuke Murai

Staff Writer

Toshiba Corp. announced Tuesday it returned to the black for the first time in four years as it booked a record net profit of ¥804 billion ($7.3 billion) for the 2017 business year, helped by debt sales of its now-bankrupt U.S. nuclear business.

The conglomerate also said it improved its balance sheet by recording ¥783.1 billion in shareholders’ equity at the end of March, staving off a risk of being delisted from the Tokyo Stock Exchange.

The company reported a negative net worth of ¥553 billion at the end of March 2017.

“We have caused enormous concerns to our stakeholders, but we got rid of the negative net worth (in the last business year) to avoid the crisis,” Toshiba Chairman and CEO Nobuaki Kurumatani told a news conference Tuesday following the release of the financial report. “At last, we can stand at the starting line.”

Toshiba’s operating profit in the business year ended in March, however, dropped 21.9 percent to ¥64 billion, excluding profits from Toshiba Memory Corp., which the company is working to sell to a consortium led by U.S. investment fund Bain Capital for ¥2 trillion. Sales dropped 2.4 percent to ¥3.95 trillion.

The company forecasts its operating profit for the current business year that started April 1 will grow 9.3 percent to ¥70 billion even without the lucrative Toshiba Memory unit.

Its net profit is expected to jump 33.1 percent to ¥1.07 trillion, which includes the planned sale of the unit, despite an 8.8 percent drop in its sales forecast.

Toshiba emphasized Tuesday it will continue to seek ways to sell its blue-chip semiconductor unit, adding that it plans to use the funds to increase shareholder returns by taking such measures as purchasing its own stocks.

Toshiba had originally worked to sell Toshiba Memory as a measure to cover massive debts caused by the nuclear firm Westinghouse Electric Co. and to avoid being delisted from the TSE. But the company eliminated the debt without selling the chip firm after raising ¥600 billion through a third-party allocation of new shares in December.

The chip deal is being held up by antitrust screening in China, which is taking longer than expected. The prospect of the sale remains unclear while the reported May 28 deadline looms.

Kurumatani, a former banker who took the helm of the technology giant in April, said the company is not considering a change of plans as it waits for approval from Chinese antitrust authorities.

“We will gain substantial capital after selling the memory unit. We will use that asset to boost our growth,” he said.

Toshiba estimates selling the memory unit will push its profit up by about ¥1 trillion.

Kurumatani also talked about a five-year plan to improve the firm’s fundamental profitability and turn its business model into what he calls the “recurring” model, driven by digital technologies used in such fields as social infrastructure and energy, in a bid to make the company strong enough to compete with top global companies.