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29 Jun 2005
MOODY'S REPORTS: SOLID DEMAND AND FINANCIALS SUPPORT STABLE OUTLOOK FOR JAPANESE COSMETICS AND HOUSEHOLD PRODUCTS MAKERS
Tokyo, June 29, 2005 -- The overall rating outlook for Japanese cosmetics and household products
companies over the next twelve months is stable, comments Moody's
Investors Service in a new report. In addition, the two companies
Moody's rates in this sector -- Shiseido Co., Ltd.
(Shiseido) and Kao Corporation (Kao) -- are well positioned to maintain
their positions as market leaders through 2005, the rating agency
The report, "Japan Cosmetics and Household Products Industry Outlook,"
describes the industry outlook as supported by three factors: demand
for these products being steady through the economic cycle; makers'
continuing cost reduction efforts, which should mitigate weak retail
price trends; and the major players' solid financial profiles,
which should allow them strategic flexibility even if the market deteriorates.
In addition, Moody's explains that Shiseido and Kao's market positions
have been backed by their strong marketing resources -- including
brand equities -- and effective use of consumer data accumulated
through their information systems.
"In 2004, Shiseido dramatically increased its advertising and sales
promotion expenses to further reinforce its No. 1 domestic cosmetics
market position," says Noriko Kosaka, Moody's Assistant Vice
President - Analyst. "Furthermore, Kao is continuing
product innovation to enhance its existing goods and is expanding product
development into new areas, including functional foods, while
succeeding in expanding its core product lines."
"We expect these initiatives to underpin the two companies' market shares
throughout the year," Kosaka adds.
The report observes that, moreover, Shiseido and Kao's strong
financial structures support their aggressive marketing strategies.
Moody's expects the two companies' financial strength will continue to
allow them the flexibility to implement necessary business strategies.
Cosmetics and household products makers face limited growth in the mature
domestic market and are therefore pursuing growth overseas, especially
in China. Shiseido and Kao have both expanded their operations
in overseas market, and are seeing the results of this strategy
vary by product category.
"Generally, competition in household products -- with players
including giant global makers and low-priced local manufacturers
-- is much more intense than in cosmetics," Moody's Kosaka
explains. "One focus of Moody's analysis is how the Japanese makers
penetrate the overseas market -- including China -- and establish
their brand equities while managing associated business risks and investments."
Moody's believes that controlling overall cost structures will become
much more important for Japanese cosmetics and household products companies
due to the need to continually introduce new products, in turn a
response to diversifying sales channels and segmentation of consumer preferences.
Also, in Japan, retailers' pricing power vis-a-vis
makers is not as strong as in the US or Europe. Therefore,
makers' sophisticated supply chain management, supported by their
own information systems, can be effective to maintain their profitability.
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118, or Reynold Leegerstee in Johannesburg +27-11-217-5471.
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