TOKYO — Kao Corp. said Wednesday that its net profit for its fiscal first quarter grew by over 70 percent thanks to decreased prices of raw materials and a low comparative base.

The Japanese company’s net profit for the three months ended Mar. 31 increased by 73.1 percent to 20.8 billion yen, or $180.37 million at average exchange rates for the period.

Operating profit grew 51.5 percent to 34.45 billion yen, or $298.71 million.

Kao said it saw first-quarter sales growth of 1.7 percent to 335.09 billion yen, or $2.91 billion.

Sales in Kao’s beauty care segment, which includes brands such as Kanebo, Molton Brown, Bioré and Jergens, increased 3.1 percent to 138.4 billion yen, or $1.2 billion. Excluding the effects of currency translation, sales growth in this segment would have been 5.2 percent.

Geographically speaking, Kao’s sales growth was particularly strong in Asia. In its home market of Japan, revenue grew 3.1 percent to 226.1 billion yen, or $1.96 billion. Elsewhere in Asia, sales grew 1.6 percent to 71.7 billion yen, or $621.71 million. The growth figure would have been 10.8 percent without the effects of currency exchange, the company said.

“Growth continued as the Kao Group worked in areas such as launching and nurturing products targeting the middle-class consumer segment, collaborating with retailers, utilizing wholesale channels, and expanding sales regions,” Kao said of its consumer products business in Asia.

The company left unchanged its guidance for the twelve months ending Dec. 31. It is expecting net profit to grow 14.1 percent to 120 billion yen, or $1.07 billion at current exchange rates.

Kao is predicting operating profit will increase by 10 percent to 184 billion yen, or $1.64 billion, while sales should grow 2.4 percent to 1.51 trillion yen, or $13.42 billion.