TOKYO – Kao Corp. said Thursday that its nine-month net income grew 18.1 percent on increased sales in certain divisions, as well as a decrease in the cost of raw materials.

The company’s net profit for the nine months ended Sept. 30 totaled 86.36 billion yen, or $797.08 million at average exchange rates for the period. Operating profit increased 12.7 percent to 131.2 billion yen, or $1.21 billion.

The company’s net sales for the period slipped 0.9 percent to 1.06 trillion yen, or $9.74 billion. However, were it not for the effect of currency translation, sales would have grown 3.6 percent.

Kao’s beauty-care business, which includes the brands Kanebo, Molton Brown, Bioré, Jargens and John Frieda, saw its net sales gain 0.7 percent to 441.6 billion yen, or $4.08 billion. Excluding the effect of currency translation, the growth would have been 4.9 percent.

“In Japan, sales increased due to factors including good performance by new products launched in the previous year and enhanced in-store sales promotion activities,” Kao said in a statement. “Major reforms in the cosmetics business started in September, and shipments of the Sofina iP series, for which sales channels have expanded, and of the new global brand Kanebo are progressing steadily.”

Outside of Japan, sales in Kao’s beauty-care business also grew, thanks in part to strong performance in China and Taiwan. Bioré sold well in both Asia and the Americas.

Kao left unchanged its guidance for the fiscal year ending Dec. 31. It expects net profit to advance 14.1 percent to 120 billion yen, or $1.15 billion at current exchange, and a 10 percent rise in operating profit to 184 billion yen, or $1.76 billion.

It forecasts sales growth of 0.4 percent to 1.48 trillion yen, or $14.19 billion.

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