• Cable broadcaster Usen Corp. announced plans to list its stock on the first section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange, shifting from the Osaka Securities Exchange's Hercules market where it is currently traded. The president of the firm said Usen will apply for the listing with the TSE as early as the fall of 2007 after regaining profitability. The company posted a group net loss of 8.8 billion yen (US$74.8 million) in the business year to Aug. 31. Analysts said that Usen apparently decided to list its shares on the TSE to prevent further declines in its stock price as Japan's emerging markets have been going downhill following the so-called Livedoor shock.
• Yahoo Japan posted a 22.1 percent growth in net profit to 13.6 billion yen (US$114.4 million) for the three months to September on revenues, which rose 24.5 percent from a year earlier to 51.2 billion yen (US$435.3 million). The firm said its operating profits went up by 31.5 percent to 25 billion yen (US$212.5 million). Yahoo Japan Corp is 41.1 percent owned by Internet conglomerate Softbank Corp and 33.4 percent by Yahoo Inc. of the U.S. Its advertising sales rose 35.9 percent from a year earlier, which was a slight 0.3 percent rise from the first quarter to June. For the six months to September, Yahoo Japan reported a 25 percent rise in net profit to 26.8 billion yen (US$227.8 million) on revenues of 100.4 billion yen (US$853.7 million), up 25.6 percent. For its third quarter to December, Yahoo Japan forecasted net profits of 13.6 -15.2 billion yen (US$115.6-129.2 million) on revenues of 51.7-55.2 billion yen (US$439.6-469.6 million). Yahoo Japan gave no full year guidance.
• CyberAgent, a Tokyo-based leader in Internet media markets, has announced consolidated monthly results and overall position through August 2006. The company said its consolidated net sales for September increased 35.2 percent from the level in the same period of the previous year to 7.2 million yen (US$61,221), which includes Investment Development Business sales of 1.7 million yen (US$14,455).
• Matsui Securities Co., Ltd. announced High-speed Alpha, a free trading tool that allows mobile phone users with NTT DoCoMo (DCM) FOMA 900i series models to buy and sell stock through their phones in real time. High-speed Alpha was jointly developed by Index Co. Ltd. a subsidiary of Index Holdings, and Simplex Technology Inc. It is driven by NHSH (Net Stock High Speed), a trading tool for PCs that displays stock information, indicative price, charts and index numbers. In addition, it enables users to perform ordering functions in real time. In a related development, Matsui, Index Holdings and Simplex announced that they are ready to further expand their services for individual stockholders in the future.
• NEC Corporation (NIPNY) and Panasonic, the brand for which Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd. (MC) is best known, and Panasonic Mobile Communications Co., Ltd., a subsidiary of Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd., announced the establishment of a new company, ESTEEMO Co., Ltd. ESTEEMO was established based on an agreement signed by the three parties on July 27, 2006, and will carry out the development of mobile handsets, including the development of a common software and hardware platform. The announcement stated that the company name had been coined from a combination of the words Esteem and Mobile to signify establishment by Panasonic and NEC as business partners with mutual esteem for each other, the target of acquiring esteemed customers and of becoming an esteemed company in the market for the development of mobile handsets.
• After claiming that intense competition in Japan’s mobile phone market would have a strong impact on its profits, NTT DoCoMo (DCM) posted a 19.6 percent decline in its net profit to 309.8 billion yen (US$2.6 billion) in the six months to September compared with a year earlier. The company said its operating profit went down by 7.4 percent to 516.8 billion yen (US$4.3 billion) as revenues posted a 0.4 percent growth to 2.3 trillion yen (US$19.5 billion), the latter ascribed to the introduction of new handsets with credit card functions and built-in music players. DoCoMo said it looks to a full-year net profit of 488 billion yen (US$4.1 billion), down 20.1 percent from a year earlier, on revenues of about 4.8 trillion yen (US$40.8 billion), up 0.7 percent. In a separate development, Softbank Corp announced an aggressive discount package, a move that analysts see as its attempt to catch up with larger rivals NTT DoCoMo and KDDI.
Media, Entertainment and Gaming
• TBS Radio & Communications Inc. announced plans to create a new radio channel concentrated on classic music broadcasts next spring using digital technology enabling high- quality sound transmission. A top company official expressed that the new service will be aimed at “adults living in the urban area” as its main listener base, while using the digital radio broadcasting technology it is testing in Tokyo. At present, Japan Broadcasting Corp., known as NHK, Tokyo FM Broadcasting Co., known as FM Tokyo, and other broadcasters are testing the high-sound quality digital radio technology in Tokyo and Osaka. FM Tokyo earlier said it is preparing to create its own digital radio channel next spring. The would-be broadcasters of digital programs are planning to triple the output power of radio transmitters shortly. Multiple electronics manufacturers are to release receivers compatible with the digital technology shortly.
• Apple (AAPL) disclosed that it has reached an agreement with BMG Japan, which allows the latter’s catalog of leading Japanese and international artists to be made available by way of iTunes Japan. Industry observers note that the move follows several months of tension between Apple and some Japanese labels, and indicates a great change in the atmosphere in Japan's digital music market. iTunes Store Japan currently offers over two million songs, 3,500 music videos, Disney and Pixar short films, 65,000 podcasts and 16,000 audiobooks.
• A survey conducted by the Development Bank of Japan revealed that the total net profit of major Japanese cable TV broadcasters for fiscal 2005 went up by 5.2 billion yen (US$44.2 million) from the previous year to 26.5 billion yen (US$225.3 million), a record high since the survey started in fiscal 2000. The broadcasters' total net earnings showed a profit for the fourth straight year and total operating revenues also hit an all-time high of 456.7 billion yen (US$3.8 billion), up 51.4 billion yen. The bank surveyed 182 client CATV firms out of about 300 such firms nationwide. The bank attributed the good showings to increased revenues for the telecommunications business including broadband net access via TV cables. Business observers stated that cable TV stations in Japan, many of which are community-based and small-to-medium sized, had experienced from deficits incurred by equipment investment. The survey, according to analysts, shows that their profits have stabilized with the penetration of high-speed networks.
• Nintendo Co. (OTCPK:NTDOY) posted a 72 percent growth in fiscal second-quarter profit on sales of the portable DS and the latest “Super Mario” software title. The firm said its net income went up to 38.8 billion yen (US$327 million) in the three months ended Sept. 30 from a year earlier, in line with the preliminary earnings statement released on Oct. 3. Nintendo also raised its shipment forecast for the touch-screen DS player and game titles this fiscal year. The popularity of the device, which can be used to play Nintendogs, an interactive pet game, and brainteasers, helped the company fend off competition from Sony Corp.'s (SNE) PlayStation Portable. Nintendo said its sales registered a 59 percent rise to 167.9 billion yen (US$1.4 billion) in the quarter, with its operating profits more than doubled to 38.3 billion yen (US$325.6 million) from 15.9 billion yen (US$135.1 million). Earlier, the company upped its net income forecast for the year ending March 31, 2007, to 100 billion yen (US$850.3 million), up from its July forecast of 83 billion yen (US$705.7 million). Regarding its DS Shipments, Nintendo said it is looking to shipping 20 million DS players this fiscal year, up from its previous projection of 17 million.
• Omron Corporation, a global leader in automation, sensing and control technologies, announced that it has reached a preliminary agreement to acquire the semiconductor business assets of Seiko Epson's consolidated subsidiary, Yasu Semiconductor Corporation. OMRON develops, manufactures, and markets custom ICs that offer functionality and cost- performance not found in general-purpose semiconductors, as well as MEMS (Micro Electro Mechanical Systems) products such as flow sensors and pressure sensors that utilize semiconductor processes. For fiscal 2005, OMRON posted sales related to semiconductor of 6.6 billion yen (US$56.1 million). The acquisition of the business assets resulting from this preliminary agreement is aimed at further reinforcing these semiconductor operations, while strengthening the OMRON Group's line of semiconductor-equipped products.
The following is excerpted from IRG's weekly stock report: