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Record profit at Shin-Etsu Chemical as price hikes fatten margins

Silicon wafer maker also benefited $275m from Trump tax cut

Prices and shipments of Shin-Etsu Chemical's silicon wafers are rising.

TOKYO -- Shin-Etsu Chemical's net profit jumped 51% to 266.2 billion yen ($2.4 billion) in the year ended in March, the first record high in a decade, as price hikes for polyvinyl chloride and silicon wafers improved profit margins.

Sales grew 16% to 1.44 trillion yen, the Tokyo-based company said Friday. The chemical maker also said it will raise its annual dividend for a third straight year, to 140 yen from 120 yen.

Shin-Etsu's shares climbed 1.3% to close at 11,005 yen on Friday. Nearly 40% of the company's shareholders are foreign investors.

Demand was strong for PVC, a material used in a wide variety of products, thanks to the upbeat global economy. Core U.S. subsidiary, Shintech, the world's largest PVC maker by capacity, ran output at full throttle, while rising prices of caustic soda also widened margins.

In addition, Shin-Etsu reaped a one-time gain of roughly $275 million from U.S. operations due to President Donald trump's corporate tax cuts.

The tightening market for silicon wafers, which form the base of semiconductors, is also good news for Shin-Etsu. Prices rose for its mainstay 300-millimeter wafers used in products such as flash memory chips.  Shipments of its 200mm wafers also increased.

Sales volume increased in segments offering semiconductor materials, rare-earth magnets and silicone products.

Shin-Etsu said it plans in May to retire 4.5 million shares of treasury stock, the equivalent of more than 1% of outstanding shares, a first for the company. It will release its forecast for the current fiscal year at a later date.

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