Yoshinoya D&C Co. President Shuji Abe on Friday painted a rosy picture for his company, one in which United States beef imports resume by September, sharply boosting profit at the restaurant chain famed for its beef-on-rice bowl dishes in time for the latter half of the business year.

His remarks came as Yoshinoya reported a net loss of 387 million yen for the previous year. The improvement — which halved its prior loss of 758 million yen — was fueled by changes in its menu and aggressive promotions.

“We would not generally presume that the beef ban will be maintained after September,” Abe said. “If that does become the case, then it would be an act of negligence.”

The “gyudon” chain posted a pretax profit of 2.18 billion yen on sales of 122.39 billion yen in the year ending 2006, up 3.8 percent from the previous year and its first black ink in two years. The firm, however, predicts net profit will jump to 2.20 billion yen on revenues of 135.10 billion yen in the current year.

But if beef imports do not resume by then, Yoshinoya predicts its revenue and profit will remain flat, he said.

Japan slapped an import ban on Canadian and U.S. beef after a case of mad cow disease was discovered in animals in Canada in May 2003 and in the U.S. in December 2003. The ban on U.S. beef forced Yoshinoya to take gyudon off its menu in 2004.

The mainstay item was supposed to return to menus in February, after the two-year-old import ban partially came to an end in December. However, the ban was reinstated in January after a shipment containing backbone was discovered.

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