JAPANESE shipping company Nippon Yusen Kaisha (NYK) has reported a more than 54 per cent drop in net profit for the past financial year, partly because of the rising yen. Net profit was 2.47 billion yen (about HK$219.83 million), down from 5.39 billion yen a year earlier. However, the operating profit more than doubled, from 6.5 billion yen to 13.32 billion yen, thanks to increased cargo liftings and cost-cutting measures. The company expects to pay a dividend of four yen per share. Revenue topped 517.53 billion yen, down from 531.19 million yen a year earlier. The company has forecast a net profit of 2.5 billion yen for the current year. It said cargo movement in the liner services was brisk throughout Asia last year, but intensified competition continued on European and North American routes. Business improved for the bulk shipping division as increased demand for crude steel in Europe and Japan, and for grain throughout the world, give a boost to the market. 'NYK maintained its solid performance in this area by acquiring favourable contracts, efficiently deploying vessels, and monitoring market trends,' a company statement said. Although shipments of cars to North America proceeded relatively well, those to Europe failed to recover and the number of vehicles shipped actually decreased. But the company minimised the negative effects by reducing costs and expanding business on cross-trade routes. Conditions in the oil tanker market remained stagnant, but NYK was able to maintain stable earnings thanks to long-term contracts. 'In this difficult business environment, NYK redoubled efforts to generate profits by increasing cargo liftings, reducing costs and expenses, and rationalising vessel deployment,' it said. As a result, although revenue declined slightly, operating profit and pre-tax profit increased because the overall cost reductions were greater than revenue losses. To cope with the adverse effects of the rising yen, the company is determined to increase cargo liftings, reduce costs and implement a rationalisation plan. It said NYK would continue to pay stockholders a stable dividend appropriate to present profitability, profit-and-loss projections, and future business undertakings.