TOKYO — A lower tax rate lifted Shiseido’s net profit for the first nine months of the year, but sales suffered as consumers snapped up fewer cosmetics and beauty products. Also in Asia last week, Kao Corp. and Kosé Corp. reported sales and profits.

This story first appeared in the February 1, 2010 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Shiseido’s profit for the period ended Dec. 31 increased 11.2 percent to 23.7 billion yen or $253.6 million at average exchange rates. However, sales slumped 10.4 percent to 464.64 billion yen, or $4.97 billion.

The cosmetics and beauty giant’s operating profit slid 12.6 percent to 32.6 billion yen, or $348.8 million.

“In the first three quarters under review, both Japan and overseas nations faced continued economic stagnation, while conditions surrounding the consumer goods market remained difficult,” said the company, which has launched a $1.7 billion bid for Bare Escentuals. In terms of its cosmetics business, Shiseido reported a year-on-year sales increase in the Asia-Oceania region, with particular strength in China, on a local currency basis. But total sales in the overseas cosmetics business fell 0.9 percent on a local currency basis and 15.8 percent after translation into yen.

In China, Shiseido “focused on expanding our network of cosmetics specialty stores and strove to attract new types of customers by strengthening our makeup line,” the company said. In the Americas and Europe, Shiseido renewed the global Shiseido brand, which led to a sales turnaround in the third quarter, and the percentage of the sales decline in those regions diminished on a local-currency basis.

Meanwhile, at Kao, profits and sales dropped for the nine months ended Dec. 31. Net income dropped 17.6 percent to 44.7 billion yen, or $478.3 million, while operating profit dropped 7.2 percent to 84.8 billion yen, or $907.4 million, compared with the same period a year ago. Sales dropped 9.3 percent to 910.6 billion yen, or $9.74 billion.

Sales of its beauty care division for the nine months dropped 4.4 percent to 4.2 billion yen, or $44.9 million.

At Kosé, Japan’s third-largest cosmetics company, weak consumer demand and a strong yen bit into results for the first nine months of the year, the firm said Friday.

Kosé said net profit for the nine months ending Dec. 31 slid 9.9 percent to 3.16 billion yen, or $33.8 million. Sales decreased 3.5 percent to 130.7 billion yen, or $1.40 billion.

The company, which is dwarfed by both Shiseido and Kao, reiterated its previous forecasts for its fiscal year ending March 31. Net profit is seen falling by 26.2 percent to 3.5 billion yen, or $38.8 million, while sales should drop about 1.2 percent to 176 billion yen, or $1.95 billion.

Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Shiseido's profits decreased.
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