TOKYO — Shiseido Group reported Friday net profits for the nine-month period ended Dec. 31 were down 16.6 percent to 20.27 billion yen, or $174 million at average exchange for the period. The dip was due to a hike in taxes, the firm said in a statement. The group's sales in the period rose 3.4 percent year-on-year, to 517.34 billion yen, or $4.45 billion. Sales outside of the Tokyo-based brand's domestic market represented 31.1 percent of total revenues in the period. By region, sales in the Americas increased 11.9 percent to 39.58 billion yen, or $340 million; in Europe, business rose 3.5 percent to 59.27 billion yen, or $509 million, and Asia and Oceania reported a hike of 29.8 percent to 62.05 billion yen, or $534 million. In the statement, Shiseido said the Japanese cosmetics market was sluggish over the three quarters, partly due to weak sales in the retail sector. Shiseido said it has reached the halfway point in its three-year plan, which includes reforming its domestic marketing activities and accelerating the expansion of its business in China. Looking ahead, due to an expected decline in its income tax burden, the company raised its net profit forecast for the fiscal year ending March 31 from 21 billion yen, or $181 million, to 23 billion yen, or $198 million. It confirmed its full-year sales forecast of 695 billion yen, or $5.98 billion.
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