Rakuten reports tripled profits in 2017, shoots for double-figure growth in 2018
Japanese online retail and services giant, Rakuten, has reported a 187.8% boom in its net profit during the full year closing December 2017, reaching 110.58 billion yen (830 million euros). The company's results beat forecasts largely thanks to good performances in its operations but also because of exceptional gains made through its investment portfolio. 20.8% growth in turnover was reported, bringing the figure up to 944.47 billion yen (7.104 billion euros), while the company's operating profit increased by 90.2% to 149.34 billion yen (1.123 billion euros), in line with analysts' expectations.
Owner of the French online retail platform PriceMinister, the Japanese group highlighted profits made from the sale of shares it held in a number of online services companies but did not provide further details. In mid-November, Rakuten also alluded to earnings linked to its investments in mobile ridesharing or chauffeur applications. The group has notably been an investor in Lyft, Uber's rival, since 2015.
These strong results have not prevented the company from taking a somewhat cautious approach to its 2018 operations. Indeed, Rakuten will have to face growing competition from the American e-commerce titan Amazon. It is in this context that the Japanese group recently announced a partnership with the American corporation Walmart, with plans to cooperate on e-readers and the delivery of foodstuffs.
For this year, Rakuten is aiming for "double-figure" growth in its receipts, discounting operations relative to its financial services which are highly dependent on market changes. As for e-commerce, the group has stated that it intends to continue growing its business, both in terms of volume and value, notably through bolstering sales of goods and services on mobiles and tablets.
The company, which has diversified its operations in fintech, is also banking on the acquisition of Asahi Fire & Marine Insurance to push its earnings and operating profit from March onwards.
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