May 17, 2014 12:43 am JST

Japan Inc.'s fiscal 2013 pretax profit rose 36%

TOKYO -- Listed companies in Japan enjoyed a 36% increase in pretax profit last fiscal year on the back of growing demand and a weaker yen, with automobile and electronics manufacturers leading the charge.

      Roughly 70% of the companies reported increases in both sales and profit. Sales grew by nearly 13%, the sharpest gain in the past decade.

     The Nikkei tabulated the financial results of 1,516 businesses that have released their earnings for the year ended March 31 as of Friday, excluding financial and power companies. Total profits recovered to 96% of the all-time high marked in fiscal 2007, before the global financial crisis. Record profits were reported by 345 companies.

     Of the 17 manufacturing industries, all with the exception of oil companies reported profit increases. The auto industry, including parts makers, posted a 54% surge in pretax profit to around 1.9 trillion yen ($18 billion) as the sliding yen made exports more profitable. Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd., the maker of Subaru vehicles, saw profit more than triple to a record 314.4 billion yen.

     Profit more than doubled for the electronics industry. Panasonic Corp. staged a sharp recovery by abandoning unprofitable businesses such as plasma televisions while shifting toward the promising auto and housing-related fields. Hitachi Ltd. beat its previous profit record notched 23 years ago as its strategy of focusing on infrastructure, including information systems, paid off.

     Among nonmanufacturers, all 13 industries except air transport reported pretax profit gains. Telecommunications companies SoftBank Corp. and KDDI Corp. posted record profits on the back of a growing smartphone market. An increase in public works provided a tailwind to the construction industry while real estate companies reaped profit gains on improving property markets in big cities.

    For the current fiscal year, sluggish spending following the April 1 consumption tax hike as well as slumps in emerging nations could weigh on corporate earnings. Pretax profit growth is seen slowing to 2%, with manufacturers expecting a 4% increase and nonmanufacturers anticipating a 1% slide.