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Kao Q1 Grows on Low Base

Tax payments last year caused the jump while sales grew 1.5 percent.

TOKYO — Kao Corp. said Tuesday that its first-quarter net profit nearly quadrupled from the same period a year ago due to a low base triggered by a special tax payment last year.

 

The beauty and personal care goods company is in the process of changing the structure of its fiscal year to run from January through December, rather than April through March. It restated its results from the first three calendar months of 2012 to provide a consistent comparison.

 

Kao’s net income for the three months ended March 31 totaled 10.52 billion yen, or $111.9 million at an exchange rate provided by the company. The comparative figure for the year earlier period was 2.7 billion yen, or $34.1 million in dollar terms at average rates for the period.

 

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Operating profit rose 27.1 percent to 18.34 billion yen, or $195 million. The company attributed the growth to increased sales of its consumer products in Asia, as well as lower costs for raw materials and decreased expenses.

 

Kao said that net sales for the period grew by 1.5 percent to 289.05 billion yen, or $3.07 billion. The company said that its sales would have fallen 2.6 percent in constant currency terms.

 

Kao’s beauty care business, which includes brands such as Bioré, Kanebo, Molton Brown and Jergens, saw three-month sales grow by 2 percent compared to restated results for the same period last year. Sales of the beauty care business totaled 129 billion yen, or $1.37 billion.

 

Geographically, Kao’s sales grew in all regions except its home market of Japan, where net sales decreased by 2.6 percent to 207.6 billion yen, or $2.21 billion.

 

“Although the Kao Group took measures including launching new products in response to changing consumer lifestyles and enhancing proposal-based sales, some products were impacted by intensifying competition and market contraction,” the company said of performance among its consumer products business in Japan.

 

The company saw its strongest growth in the rest of Asia, where sales jumped 15.3 percent to 45 billion yen, or $478 million.

 

Kao left unchanged its guidance for the fiscal year ending December 31. The company expects net income to grow 16.4 percent to 73 billion yen, or $776.2 million. It is predicting operating profit will increase by 3.8 percent to 116 billion yen, or $1.23 billion. It forecasts a net sales increase of 4.1 percent to 1.27 trillion yen, or $13.50 billion.