Kikkoman sees profit growth return in 20O9/10

TOKYO - Profit growth at Kikkoman Corp Japan's top soy sauce maker, is likely to return to around 10 percent in the year to March 2010 unless the company has to raise prices, chairman Yuzaburo Mogi said on Wednesday.

By (Reuters)

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Published: Wed 20 Aug 2008, 2:05 PM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 11:55 AM

Kikkoman, which has been in business for more than 300 years, has seen its domestic market contract in recent years. It has turned abroad to counter this trend but has suffered a battering in recent months due to surging raw materials prices, forcing it to raise domestic prices earlier this year.

‘If we can manage not to raise prices, if soybean prices don't rise, we should return to around 10 percent operating profit growth in the 2009 business year,’ Mogi told Reuters in an interview.

He said that while conditions in the April-June period at home had been tougher than expected, overseas sales were doing well and he saw no need to revise the company's forecast for the year, adding that European sales growth was likely to stay in double digits until 2020.

In the year that ended in March, about 55 percent of the company's operating profit came from overseas as opposed to 45 percent from Japan.

The company has one factory in China and last month said it was setting up a soy sauce production joint venture with a Chinese firm to expand sales in the Chinese market, where its presence is still small due to the comparatively high cost of Kikkoman soy sauce compared with local brands.

Mogi said the company planned to increase its presence in the Chinese market, and hoped to form one or two more Chinese joint ventures over the next decade.

‘We'll take the next decade and little by little build our foundation there,’ he said.

Last month, Kikkoman posted operating profit of 4.61 billion yen ($41.96 million) for April-June, down from 5.93 billion yen in the same period last year, but said it was keeping its forecasts for the first half and full year unchanged.

It forecasts group operating profit growth of 23 billion for the year to March 31, 2009, compared to 23.85 billion for last business year.

Kikkoman shares finished Wednesday up 1 percent at 1,319 yen. It has lost 14 percent so far this year.

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