SoftBank and Uber; Carmakers under pressure; GM earnings

1. SoftBank: SoftBank is getting a boost from some of its huge tech investments.

The Japanese company said Wednesday that its operating profit increased 60% in the final quarter of 2018 to 438 billion yen ($4 billion), thanks to gains in the value of its tech fund.

The Saudi-backed SoftBank Vision Fund has pumped more than $45 billion into tech companies around the world and has more than $50 billion still to spend.

Investments in Uber and WeWork accounted for a big chunk of SoftBank’s income surge. But the company lost money on Nvidia, whose shares plunged toward the end of 2018.

The company said the Vision Fund has offloaded its entire stake in Nvidia since the start of this year. SoftBank stock closed 0.6% higher in Tokyo before the earnings release.

2. Car makers report: Earnings from Toyota and Daimler are adding to worries over the strength of the global auto industry.

Toyota downgraded its full year financial forecast on Wednesday. The Prius maker said its sales in North America declined in the final three months of last year.

Shares in Toyota dropped as much as 1.5% in Tokyo, before recovering some ground to close down 0.7%.

Daimler said in an earnings statement Wednesday that its operating profit in the fourth quarter dropped 22% compared to the previous year. The German carmaker also cut its dividend.

The company said its performance during 2018 “didn’t reflect the strong demand” for its vehicles.

“2018 was a year of strong headwinds — with the ongoing diesel debate, the changeover to the new [emissions] test method and the global trade dispute,” Daimler Chairman Dieter Zetsche said in a statement.

Daimler shares were down nearly 2% in Frankfurt after the announcement.

3. More auto earnings: General Motors is up next. It reports earnings before

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