January 17, 2021
SoftBank Group Corp. rose to a fresh 20-year high as the recent stock market surge...

SoftBank Group Corp. rose to a fresh 20-year high as the recent stock market surge boosted the value of holdings like Uber Technologies Inc. and brightened the prospects for portfolio companies going public.

The U.S. ride-hailing pioneer recovered from stumbles after its initial public offering last year and its shares have gained more than 70% this year. Softbank’s 13% stake is worth about $11 billion. The Japanese company is also a major shareholder in U.S. delivery giant DoorDash Inc., which filed to go public this month. SoftBank’s stock gained 2.3% to 7,250 yen on Friday, the highest level since March of 2000 in the midst of the dot-com boom.

Citigroup Inc. earlier this week raised its target price on SoftBank to 11,000 yen from 10,200 yen, citing improved earnings prospects at the Tokyo-based company’s investments business. Nomura Holdings Inc. raised its target to 9,100 yen from 8,190 yen citing the same reason. Both brokerages have a buy rating on SoftBank.

A series of missteps in the investment business including a failed WeWork IPO and the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak led to record losses last fiscal year. SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son responded by unveiling plans to sell 4.5 trillion yen ($43 billion) in assets and buy back a record 2.5 trillion yen of his own stock. Shares are up more than 160% from their March low.

“We see plenty of room for the shares to rise against a backdrop of aggressive share buybacks and efforts to improve financial health,” Citigroup analyst Mitsunobu Tsuruo wrote in the report.

The Japanese conglomerate reported a record 784.4 billion yen profit in its Vision Fund business for the three months ended Sept. 30, a sign the fund’s investments in startups are paying off amid a broad rally in technology stocks. The bull market is also making it easier for SoftBank-backed startups to go public.

Opendoor, which buys and sells homes, is going public through a merger with a blank-check company led by Chamath Palihapitiya. Compass, another SoftBank portfolio company, has selected underwriters for a potential initial public offering, a person with knowledge of the matter has said.

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