East Japan Railway Co. (JR East) said Tuesday its group net profit in fiscal 1999 leaped threefold from the previous year, following two consecutive years of setbacks.

The company said its net profits for the year that ended March 31 came to 66.96 billion yen.

Its consolidated pretax profit increased 5.5 percent to 131.7 billion yen on sales of 2.5 trillion yen, up 0.8 percent from a year earlier. The operating profits were 342 billion yen, up 2.2 percent.

Central Japan Railway Co. (JR Tokai) said its consolidated pretax profits dropped 7.9 percent to 67 billion yen, with its sales falling 1 percent to 1.22 trillion yen.

The firm, which largely depends on revenues from the Shinkansen bullet train operation between Tokyo and Osaka, attributed its unfavorable business results to intensifying competition with air flights between the two cities.

Of the sales decrease of 12.6 billion yen, about 10 billion yen can be attributed to the competition with airlines, the company said.

JR Tokai, however, will not wage a price war with its airline rivals, company officials told a press conference.

Shipping firms profit

Three major Japanese shipping companies scored profit gains in fiscal 1999 due largely to cost-cutting and increases in transportation charges between Japan, the United States and Asian countries.

Consolidated earnings reports released by the three firms by Tuesday show that in the year to March 31, Nippon Yusen K.K. registered a consolidated net profit of 15.7 billion yen, up 27.1 percent over the previous year, on a 1.8 percent rise in group operating revenues to 1.102 trillion yen.

Mitsui O.S.K. Lines Ltd. reported a net profit of 8.3 billion yen, up 18.8 percent, on operating revenues of 881.8 billion yen, up 9 percent.

Shipping companies were forced to push ahead with cost reductions due to the difficult business climate resulting from unfavorable factors such as the yen’s appreciation and higher fuel costs.

Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha Ltd., therefore, incurred a 5.3 percent drop in operating revenues to 485.6 billion yen but boosted its net profit more than four times to 6.8 billion yen.