Nikkei rises led by Softbank, Yahoo Japan; earnings in focus

Tue Jan 29, 2013 8:43pm EST

* Nikkei hovers near 32-month high
    * Softbank up more than 3 pct
    * Yahoo Japan jumps on share buyback, earnings and div
forecast hikes

    By Ayai Tomisawa
    TOKYO, Jan 30 (Reuters) - Japan's Nikkei share average rose
on Wednesday, led by gains in Softbank Corp and Yahoo
Japan Corp on optimistic profit expectations while
earnings-related news  dominated the market as investors awaited
trading cues from the corporate sector.
    Softbank rose more than 3 percent, being the most traded
stock on the main board by turnover after Dish Network Corp 
 decided against filing to block Sprint Nextel 
Corp's proposed deal with Softbank, at least for now.
 
    A Nikkei report that the mobile phone carrier likely  
generated a group operating profit of about 590 billion yen 
($6.51 billion) for nine months ended December is serving as a
tailwind, traders said.
     The Nikkei added 0.8 percent to 10,952.37, not far
from a 32-month high of 11,002.86 reached on Monday.
    With quarterly earnings for the October-December period in
the spotlight, analysts said that investors were focused on
prospects for the fiscal year ending March 2014 as they start
scrutinising companies' financial details such as how far a
recently weak yen could push up bottom lines.
    "Before, investors were like, 'just buy bellwether Japan
stocks', but now they are being selective," said Hiromichi
Tamura, chief strategist at Nomura Securities. "Many of them
still want to add more Japanese shares to their portfolios, and
companies that are reporting strong results and forecasts are in
focus."
    Yahoo Japan jumped as much as 21.4 percent to a four-year
high of 38,600 yen after it said it planned to buy back up to 20
billion yen ($221 million) of its own shares, or 1.4 percent of
its issued stock. 
    The company also lifted its full-year operating profit
forecast to a range of 179.30 billion yen to 181.70 billion yen
from a previous estimate of between 173.30 billion and 177.00
billion yen, citing stronger advertising sales. It also raised
its annual dividend forecast to a range of 382-387 yen per share
from a previous forecast of 370-378 yen.
    "Investors have shifted their focus to prospects for the
full-year (ending this March) as well as next year (through
March 2014)," said Hiroichi Nishi, an assistant general manager
of equity investment at SMBC Nikko Securities.
    Komatsu Ltd was up 0.3 percent after falling as
much as 3.8 percent as the world's second-largest maker of
construction machinery cut its annual operating profit forecast
for a second time this financial year as demand for mining
equipment in Indonesia fell. 
    "Even if some earnings disappoint the market, the impact on
the overall market should be limited because investors will
probably buy shares on dips as fundamental sentiment is being
supported by 'Abenomics'," Nishi said.
    Companies reporting results later on Wednesday include
Nintendo Co, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group 
and NTT Docomo Inc.
    Investors have been piling into the Japanese market in the 
hope that "Abenomics", Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's brand of 
economic policy involving aggressive monetary easing and a 
weaker yen, will boost such stocks as exporters and financials.
    The Nikkei has risen about 26 percent since mid-November, 
when Abe, then a candidate for leader of the opposition 
and now prime minister, began calling for aggressive monetary 
easing.
    The broader Topix gained 0.5 percent to 925.70.