TOKYO -- Shares of Japanese trading house Itochu closed above leading domestic rival Mitsubishi Corp. for the first time ever Monday, thanks to a business portfolio well positioned to weather the global pandemic.
Itochu netted a modest gain to end at 2,331 yen on Monday, topping Mitsubishi's 2,317 yen. This after Itochu's market capitalization climbed past Mitsubishi's on June 2, with the spread now exceeding 200 billion yen ($1.87 billion).
Investors have viewed Itochu more favorably than other trading companies in the face of the coronavirus pandemic thanks to its holdings in lifestyle businesses. The food segment in particular has remained healthy.
"Itochu is resilient to economic fluctuations," said an analyst at a Japanese brokerage.
The company expects consolidated net profit to decline 20% to 400 billion yen for the year ending March 2021. Mitsubishi did not release guidance for this financial year, but market analysts predict a 39% drop to 325.3 billion yen.
The two companies' number of shares outstanding is roughly the same, with 1.585 billion Itochu shares in circulation compared with 1.486 billion for Mitsubishi. Last month, Mitsubishi canceled about 100 million shares after buying back nearly 300 billion yen of its stock.