May 17, 2014 5:40 am JST

More Japanese companies ending financial year in December

TOKYO -- Japan Tobacco and 10 other Japanese companies are moving to close their annual books in December starting in 2014, to align themselves better with overseas units as they speed up global expansion.

     JT, Unicharm, Otsuka Holdings, Kagome, Asics and six others are slated to change their fiscal-year-end to December, bringing the total number of Japanese companies syncing their business year to the calendar year to 328, 20% more than in 2010. Shiseido will do the same from 2015.

     JT's overseas tobacco business accounted for more than half of overall sales in fiscal 2013, for the first time ever, after acquiring British peer Gallaher in 2007. At Otsuka Holdings, about 80% of units included in group earnings are overseas. Unicharm and Shiseido ring up more than half of their total sales abroad.

     As the companies expand overseas operations, adopting calendar years will likely improve efficiency in group management.

     Generally, Japanese companies that close their books in March do not include the January-March performance of overseas units in group results. Some have pointed out that skipping the latest figures from overseas blurs the picture of the overall group's performance.

     Market observers are welcoming the move as well. "With foreign exchange rates and other factors reflected at the end of December, it'll be easier to compare performance with overseas rivals," says Koei Otaki of SMBC Nikko Securities.

     Similarly, more Japanese companies, mainly trading houses and drugmakers, are adopting International Financial Reporting Standards. As of March 31, 27 companies had already adopted the international accounting standards, and 23 more are considering doing so.