Matsumotokiyoshi Co., the nation’s largest drug store chain, said Thursday its group pretax profit for the first half to Sept. 30 rose 21.9 percent from a year earlier to 6.8 billion yen.

Sales gained 4.2 percent to 133.58 billion yen.

The company said the drug store business continued to thrive despite the slump in the overall retail sector and the economy, and it secured sufficient earnings by accelerating the opening of new outlets.

On the bottom line, however, the company posted a 2.5 percent drop in group net profit to 2.88 billion yen due to extraordinary losses connected to the sale of fixed assets and loan-loss provisions.

Group net profit per share was 116.11 yen in the April-September period, down from 119.09 yen.

As in the previous year, the company will pay an interim dividend of 10 yen per share. It plans to pay a yearend dividend of 12 yen, making the full-year payment 22 yen per share, down from 30 yen paid the previous year.

For the full year through March 31, Matsumotokiyoshi forecasts a group net profit of 6.8 billion yen and a pretax profit of 14.1 billion yen, on sales of 270 billion yen.

For 2001, the company logged a group net profit of 6.64 billion yen and a pretax profit of 12.41 billion yen on sales of 256.28 billion yen.

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