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Ajinomoto Co. said Friday its group net balance returned to the black in the year that ended March 31 due mainly to increased sales of pharmaceuticals and dietary supplements. Consolidated net profit in fiscal 2001 came to 31.44 billion yen, a turnaround from the previous fiscal year’s loss of 11.55 billion yen.

The company said its net balance also improved because it no longer needed to set aside profits to plug a shortfall in reserves for paying out retirement benefits, the previous year’s heaviest drag on net profitability.

In fiscal 2000, Ajinomoto set aside 52.67 billion yen to cover the shortfall.

Group pretax profit shot up 26.8 percent to 56.22 billion yen on a group sales increase of 3.9 percent to 943.54 billion yen, the company said.

Though domestic food sales fell slightly, sales of medical products fared well. In overseas markets, food sales rose strongly in Asia. Strong demand was seen for amino acid products used in animal feed in Europe and other regions.

For fiscal 2002, Ajinomoto expects, on a consolidated basis, a net profit of 32 billion yen, a pretax profit of 59 billion yen and sales of 990 billion yen.

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