Softbank posts record profit on Yahoo gains

One of the world's biggest investors in Internet companies has seen its publishing business slump and would have lost money without those gains.

Softbank reported a record profit because of gains on sales of shares in Yahoo and other companies.

One of the world's biggest investors in Internet companies, Tokyo-based Softbank posted better-than-expected group net income of 37.54 billion yen ($302 million), or 365 yen per share, for the year ended March 31. That's more than triple the 100.77 yen per share it earned last year.

Its publishing business has slumped, however, and it would have lost money without those gains.

Net income for Softbank and its affiliates got a boost from the parent company's February sale of 3 million shares in Yahoo. That transaction and other sales of stocks helped overshadow a sluggish performance by U.S. subsidiary Ziff-Davis, the biggest U.S. publisher of magazines for computer enthusiasts.

Softbank warned in February that Ziff-Davis's difficulties would force it to post a current loss, or loss before taxes and extraordinary items. That loss amounted to 15.47 billion yen, reversing last year's profit of 24 billion yen.

Softbank has accumulated $14 billion in unrealized gains on a portfolio of eight U.S. and Japanese Internet stocks, according to data the company updates daily on its Web site.

Softbank's other investments include GeoCities, Buy.com, and E-Loan.

Copyright 1999, Bloomberg L.P. All Rights Reserved.

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