• Kyodo

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Upward revisions in earnings forecasts for this fiscal year by listed companies in Japan have been triple that of downward ones, as cautious views on the impact of the new coronavirus eased with the start of vaccinations in February, according to a credit research firm.

Improvement in their outlooks for the year to March 2021 helped pull the Nikkei stock index up above a 30-year high last month, Teikoku Databank said in a survey report.

Some 802 companies had revised their sales projections by the end of February, of which 604, or 75%, raised their guidance, while 198 reduced it, according to the survey. Manufacturers accounted for roughly half of the companies that revised their projections upward.

When initial earnings projections were released, mostly after Japan’s first state of emergency over the coronavirus in April, many companies were “aware of the threat” from the virus and the impact was reflected in their estimates, Teikoku Databank said.

But “the fact that domestic vaccinations started in February helped result in the highest number of monthly upward revisions” of 313 in the month and “served as a factor” for the Nikkei index to finish above the 30,000 mark on Feb. 15 for the first time since August 1990, the research firm said.

Some companies are “steadily boosting earnings” by taking advantage of demand sparked by the need to stay at home during the pandemic, while many others are struggling with changes to lifestyle, it added.

Sony Corp. last month raised its net profit outlook for the year through March 31 to a record ¥1.09 trillion ($10 billion), driven by stronger demand for its new PlayStation 5 video game console as people spend more time at home playing games.

The electronics giant held off on providing an earnings forecast when it reported earnings in May, citing uncertainty stemming from the worldwide spread of the virus and provided its first guidance in August.

Panasonic Corp. also lifted its earnings forecast for the current year through March last month on solid sales of home appliances.

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