TOKYO -- Food producer Ajinomoto likely saw group operating profit jump roughly 40% year on year to around 74 billion yen ($618 million) for the nine months ended Dec. 31, which would mark a record for the period due to key acquisitions and the health of its foreign operations.
The Japanese company's sales apparently climbed just over 20% to about 900 billion yen as overseas volume sales and unit prices climbed for seasonings matching local tastes. Though weakness in emerging-nation currencies against the yen put the squeeze on local seasoning operations, that was offset by strong sales.
Economic slowdowns seen to be creeping across Brazil and other countries apparently had a limited impact on sales of low-cost everyday goods.
Processed-food flavorings destined for other companies also fared well. Sales rose at a U.S. frozen-food maker purchased in fall 2014 and, amid enhanced production efficiency, profit likely climbed.
In Japan, price hikes have improved Ajinomoto's profitability. After a weak performance in the April-June quarter, sales of frozen food picked up due to new offerings like fried rice. Commercial-use seasonings put in such things as convenience-store boxed lunches also contributed.
Ajinomoto General Foods, which became a wholly owned subsidiary, saw costs balloon for raw ingrediants such as coffee beans, but earnings are expected to exceed forecasts amid strong sales.
However, the company's feed-use nutritional supplement business was a drag on profit, with prices dropping further than expected over the October-December period. Taking that into account, Ajinomoto had projected operating profit would fall year on year during the quarter.
In November, Ajinomoto raised its operating profit forecast to 86 billion yen for the full year ending March 31, or a 15% increase. The company is nearly 90% of the way there, but will likely leave the outlook unchanged due in part to expenses arising from transferring shares in its pharmaceutical unit to Eisai.