May 14, 2014 12:07 am JST

Yakult logged 38% profit gain in fiscal 2013

TOKYO -- Yakult Honsha Co.'s net profit grew 38% last fiscal year to 22.5 billion yen ($218 million), its first all-time high in six years, thanks in large part to growth in emerging markets.

     The Japanese probiotic-drink maker's sales climbed 10% to 350.3 billion yen in the year ended in March. Unit sales rose 30% in China and 16% in Indonesia. In Mexico, a key market, the company was able to make up for flat sales volume by raising prices. Overall overseas sales grew 36% to 118.8 billion yen, bolstered by the soft yen.

     Domestic beverage sales grew 4%. Pharmaceutical revenue slid 5% on weak sales of colorectal cancer treatment Elplat.

     Operating profit rose 39% to 32 billion yen, thanks in part to growth in high-margin businesses overseas. The company compensated for higher packaging material costs by raising the price of its mainstay beverage in Japan for the first time in 22 years.

     Sales are projected to increase 4% this fiscal year to 366 billion yen, and net profit is seen climbing 4% to 23.5 billion yen. Although such factors as new plant construction will lead to higher depreciation costs, the company aims to make up for this with stronger sales.

     Yakult's new medium-term management plan ending in fiscal 2016 targets 420 billion yen in sales and net profit of 43 billion yen. The company plans to grow its overseas beverage business to 150 billion yen. In the pharmaceutical segment, it expects to begin offering Elplat for treating stomach cancer.