Trading house Sumitomo Corp. said Thursday its group net profit in the first half to Sept. 30 grew 5.4 percent to 21.41 billion yen, despite sales sinking 5.5 percent to 4.57 trillion yen.

Sumitomo said the gain is thanks to improved interest and fixed-asset balances. It also attributed the rise to a 3.6 billion yen jump in investment profit calculated via the equity method, which allows a parent firm to reflect affiliated firms’ earnings in its consolidated accounting procedures.

Sumitomo left its full-year earnings projections unchanged, forecasting a net profit of 55 billion yen on sales of 9.5 trillion yen.

The trading firm is on target to realize its two-year profitability plan, which calls for a combined group net profit of 100 billion yen over the period ending March 31. The company reported a net profit of 45.22 billion yen in 2001.

Sumitomo said it will retain a 13-year-old dividend policy of paying 8 yen per share per year.

On Oct. 15, the company released a new two-year profitability program that calls for a combined group net profit of 130 billion yen over the two-year period to March 31, 2005.

Under the program, Sumitomo will seek to generate a consolidated net profit of 60 billion yen in 2003, and a group net profit of 70 billion yen in 2004.

Sumitomo wants operations related to retailing, energy, life sciences, broadband and cable TV to be the core sources of profitability.

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