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Japan

Mobile/ Wireless

Softbank Corp. (OTCPK:SFTBF) announced full year financial results for 12 months ending March 2010. The company posted a 124% increase in net income to 96.7 billion yen (US$1.04 billion) on revenues of 2.76 trillion yen (US$29.7 billion), an increase of 3.4%. Growth was mainly driven by sales of iPhone (NASDAQ:AAPL) at Softbank Mobile, the company’s mobile division. The company also announced capital expenditure of 400 billion yen (US$4.3 billion), an increase of 81% over the previous year.
Softbank Corp. is reportedly planning to use Willcom’s next generation Personal Handyphone Service (PHS), a wireless communication standard to lower the costs of setting up equipment and base stations. Softbank had previously acquired Willcom, which went bankrupt after intense competition in the Japanese 3G mobile industry. Willcom is the only Japanese firm developing a next generation PHS service. A similar technology has been adopted by China Mobile (NYSE:CHL), the largest mobile services provider in China, for its own 3G wireless service. PHS is an alternative to technologies like GSM, being much cheaper and easier to deploy. It failed to become very popular because of its limited range and roaming abilities.
Japan's second largest mobile carrier KDDI Corp. (OTC:KDDIF) announced full year financial results for fiscal year 2009. The company’s net profit for the year slipped by about 4.5% to 212.76 billion yen (US$2.26 billion) on revenues that were lower by 1.6% at 3.44 trillion yen (US$36 billion). KDDI expects fiscal year 2010 profit to rise by about 12.8%. The company also announced that it would raise its stake in Jupiter Telecommunications (OTC:JUPIF), Japan’s biggest cable television operator to more than 50% from the current level of 31%.
NTT DoCoMo (NYSE:DCM), Japan’s biggest mobile carrier, announced net income of 494.8 billion yen (US$5.24 billion) for the twelve months ending March 2010. The company reported revenues of 1.04 trillion yen (US$11 billion) for the year. The figures reflect an increase of 4.9% and a fall of 2.5% respectively. For the last quarter, the company’s profit increased by 120% to US$800 million on lower handset subsidies.
Software
Fujitsu Ltd. (OTCPK:FJTSY), the country’s largest computer services and solutions provider, issued a forecast for full year earnings for twelve months ending March 2011. The company expects net income to increase by 2% over the last year to US$1 billion, much higher than the US$888.5 million average estimated by analysts. The company is consciously moving away from unprofitable hardware businesses to become a services provider, similar to what IBM (NYSE:IBM) has achieved in the past. Fujitsu which makes chips for mobile phones, computers and cars has completely outsourced production to Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (NYSE:TSM) to save US$840 million in the next 2 years. Meanwhile, the company announced financial results for twelve months ending March 2010. The company reported revenue of 4.68 trillion yen (US$45.47 billion), a decrease of 0.3% from last year, operating income of 94 billion yen (US$913 million), a 37.2% increase from last year and net income of 93 billion yen (US$903.5 million). Net loss in 2008 was 112 billion yen (US$1.08 billion).
Information Technology
Itochu Techno Solutions (OTCPK:ITOCY), a company focused on providing information processing services and commissioned software development, announced financial results for twelve months ending March 31, 2010. The company reported revenues of 290.4 billion yen (US$2.82 billion) and operating profit of 21.6 billion yen (US$209.8 million) for the year. The company projects a 3.3% increase in revenues and 4.2% increase in profits for the next financial year, ending March 2011. The company also expects a marginal decline in gross profit because of higher sales of less-profitable hardware sales.
Fujifilm Inc. (FUJI), a leader in imaging technologies, announced full year results for twelve months ending March 31, 2010. The company’s total revenues declined by 10.4% to 2.18 trillion yen (US$21.17 billion) with net loss of 34 billion yen (US$330 million). The company’s net profit in the previous year was 10.5 billion yen (US$102 million).
Alternative Energy
Analysts expect a major shake-up in Japan’s solar energy market with increasing competition for market share between local, Chinese, Taiwanese and Korean companies. Japan is the third largest solar energy market in the world, worth about US$ 1 billion currently, and is expected to double in size in the next 2 years. Chinese manufacturers like Suntech Power Corp. (NYSE:STP) are aggressively expanding market share in the country through their price advantage over Japanese firms and are also investing heavily in R&D initiatives. Japanese home-grown companies like Kyocera (NYSE:KYO) and Sharp Corp. (OTCPK:SHCAY) currently enjoy a technological advantage which, however, might not last long given the onslaught of more efficient Chinese companies. Japanese firms are reportedly exploring innovative ways to reduce costs and/or increase quality to retain their share of the booming demand for solar energy products in their home market.

Korea

Mobile/ Wireless
SK Telecom (NYSE:SKM) announced quarterly results for three months ending March 2010. The company’s net profits rose by 1.6% year-on-year to 322 billion won (US$287.6 million), while revenues grew by 4.9% to 3.02 trillion won (US$2.7 billion). The company’s marketing expenses increased by 28% in the quarter due to increased competition in the smartphone market, which forced SK to increase handset subsidies. Revenue growth was primarily driven by increase in the subscriber base as well as higher mobile internet sales. The company might have to reduce marketing expenses soon, after the Korea Communications Commission’s ruling last month, which mandates mobile operators in the country to limit marketing spending to 22% of total revenue by the end of the year.
Hardware
Samsung Electronics (OTC:SSNLF), the world’s largest manufacturer of LCD displays and memory chips, announced stellar results for the first quarter of 2010. The conglomerate’s net income increased by 585% to 3.99 won (US$3.61 billion) while revenues increased by 21% to 34.6 trillion won (US$31.3 billion). Growth was primarily driven by increased sales of flat-screen television sets and memory chips, while the Group’s telecommunications division, which manufactures smartphones, recorded a drop in profit.
LG Electronics (OTC:LGERF) reported first quarter financial results for the current year. The company announced net profit of 675 billion won (US$603.5 million) on revenues of 13.7 trillion won (US$12.2 billion). The company’s revenues increased by 3.7% year-on-year, while net loss in the first quarter of 2009 was KRW 200 billion (US$142 million). The company’s business solutions, home appliances and home entertainment subsidiaries recorded strong growth, while mobile communications and air-conditioning subsidiaries declined during the quarter.
Media/Entertainment/Gaming
Online gaming and internet company Neowiz announced first quarter results for three months ending March 2010. The company posted a 55% increase in year-on-year revenues to 90.6 billion won (US$64.3 million). The revenue growth was mainly driven by the company’s overseas business, which grew by 152% year-on-year. The company’s first quarter revenues have already covered almost a third of the full year guidance.

China

Telecommunications
In what could be a blow for the convergence of media and telecommunications services in the country, the State Administration of Radio, Film & Television (SARFT) announced an investigation to identify telecom operators offering unauthorized IPTV services. The regulator accused these telecom operators of seriously harming national network security and immediately ordered the shutdown of IPTV services being offered without its approval. China has about 4 million IPTV subscribers mostly with China Telecom. Growth in the IPTV business has been hampered in recent times in spite of market demand because of the turf battle between the Chinese telecom and cable regulators.
China Telecom (CHL) announced quarterly results for three months ending March 2010.The company reported net income of 4.27 billion Yuan (US$623 million) on revenues of 52.71 billion Yuan (US$7.69 billion). The figures represent a 9.1% decline and 3.6% increase over corresponding figures from the first quarter of the previous year. EBITDA margin improved by 8.5 percentage points to 43.2%. The company lost 520,000 fixed line customers and added 2.38 million broadband internet customers in the quarter. Its mobile service division, the fastest growth area for the company added 9.26 million customers in the quarter.
China Unicom’s (NYSE:CHU) revenues for the first quarter of 2010 rose by 6.6% to 40.42 billion yuan (US$5.9 billion), while net profit fell by 68% to 1.13 billion yuan (US$165.6 million). Profitability was mainly affected by depreciation of existing assets, 3G network expenditure and marketing costs. The company expects to ramp up its promotional activities on 3G this year after a sluggish performance till date and aggressive spending by rivals China Mobile and China Telecom to promote their own 3G networks.
China and Taiwan recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on cooperation in five telecom areas through non-government organizations representing each side, in a bid to enhance cross-straits interchanges and cooperation in telecom industry. The five areas are establishing a cooperation and interchange platform, facilitating such cooperation and interchange, pushing both sides towards collaboration on laying a cross-strait submarine optical fiber cable, pushing for collaboration in tapping telecom markets, and cooperating in telecom investments.
Media, Entertainment and Gaming
Sohu.com Inc. (NASDAQ:SOHU), a leading media conglomerate with presence in online multiplayer gaming, internet search and advertising, announced first quarter results for three months ending March 2010. The company’s net income declined by 7% year-on-year to US$41.3 million, while revenues increased by 12% year-on-year, to US$130 million. Sequentially, however, the company’s income and revenues fell by 3% and 5% respectively. The company’s revenues from brand advertising and wireless businesses declined, while that from online games went up. The company is optimistic about the advertising business before and during the world cup football tournament later this year. The company also said that its social networking platform 51.com broke even in the quarter, mainly due to the popularity of the portal’s social games.
ZQ Game Technology, a subsidiary of PowerLeader, reported net income of 11.5 million yuan (US$1.68 million) on revenues of 17.56 million yuan (US$2.6 million). The figures reflect an year-on-year increase of 35.6% and decline of 3.6% respectively. ZQ went public recently on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange’s ChiNext board. The company plans to increase its spending on operating and marketing its recently released 2D MMORPG ‘Liang Jian Online’.
Changyou.com Ltd. (NASDAQ:CYOU), an online game developer and operator owned by Sohu, announced first quarter net income of US$39.7 million an year-on-year increase of 19% and revenues of US$72.1 million, which increased by 17% on an annual basis. The company estimated revenues between US$74 million and US$77 million and net income between US$41 million and US$43 million for the current quarter.
Internet
Baidu (NASDAQ:BIDU), the Chinese online search leader, posted strong results for the first quarter of 2010. The company boosted revenues by 59.6% and net income by 165% over the first quarter of the previous year. The company’s net income stood at 480.5 million yuan (US$77.8 million) on revenues of 1.29 billion yuan (US$208.9 million). The company’s market share in the online search business in China increased to 64% from 58% in the previous quarter. The company seems to have benefited from the uncertainty over Google’s (NASDAQ:GOOG) future in the country, after the latter got involved in a censorship controversy with the government. Google’s market share fell to 31% in the quarter. None of the other market players have a share of more than 1% in the Chinese search market.
Alibaba.com (OTC:ALBCF), the world’s largest business-to-business online trading platform, announced an investment of more than US$ 100 million to promote its new service, AliExpress Platform. The newly launched service provides smaller-quantity orders, instant online transactions and escrow services to its customers. The escrow service will protect small mainland suppliers and their buyers from fraud and losses for a small fee. The new service aims to boost the platform’s new strategy to focus on more on non-core, value added services to drive revenue growth in 2010.
Hardware
ZTE (OTCPK:ZTCOF), a telecom equipment manufacturer and supplier, announced first quarter results for the year.The company reported net profit of 109.9 million yuan (US$16.1 million) on sales of 13.26 billion yuan (US$1.94 billion). The figures reflect growth rates of 39.7% and 13.6% respectively over the corresponding period in 2009. Growth was mainly driven by sale of handsets while the network equipment segment, where it competes with companies like Huawei, Nokia-Siemens (NYSE:NOK) Networks and Ericsson (NASDAQ:ERIC) grew only by about 1%. The company anticipates a robust performance in 2010, even though it didn’t offer any guidance on revenues and earnings.
Alternative Energy
Comtec Solar, a monocrystalline solar ingot and wafer manufacturer, reported net earnings of 20.32 million yuan (US$2.97 million) on revenues of 198.3 million yuan (US$29.07 million). The company’s wafer shipment volumes increased in the quarter.
Solargiga Energy Holdings, a manufacturer and supplier of poly silicon and monocrystalline silicon ingots and wafers, reported net income of 10.64 million yuan (US$1.56 million) on revenues of 334.5 million yuan (US$49 million). The figures compare with net loss of 98.1 million yuan (US$14.37 million) and revenues of 176 million yuan (US$26 million) in the first quarter of the previous year.
Disclosure:No positions
Source: Asian Tech Stock Weekly Review (April 26 – May 2, 2010)