Helped by the impact of yen depreciation, the Company achieved double-digit sales growth, centering on overseas markets. Income rose, bolstered by the effects of higher sales and an improved cost of sales ratio.
During the fiscal year ended March 31, 2014, due in part to the impact of yen depreciation Sysmex posted a double-digit increase in sales, centered on overseas markets. Furthermore, as income benefited from the effects of higher sales and an improved cost of sales ratio, net sales and all income categories reached historical highs. Net sales rose 26.8% year on year, with operating income up 50.8%, ordinary income up 47.0% and net income up 45.2%. At the exchange rates prevailing one year earlier, net sales would have been up 9.6% and operating income up 5.6%.
In Japan, the Company's sales in the hematology field* declined but sales in non-hematology fields* increased, leading to flat sales overall. Sales were strong overseas, notably in the hematology field, with all overseas geographic regions reporting double-digit sales growth. Ongoing growth was particularly pronounced in China, with sales rising 48.4% year on year, as reagent-centered sales in the hematology and hemostasis fields continued to expand, despite sluggish sales in some areas of the market. As a result, the Sysmex Group's overseas sales ratio amounted to 78.2%.
Our earlier dividend forecast called for a dividend of ¥42 per share (an interim dividend of ¥21 and a year-end dividend of ¥21). We now expect to pay a total dividend for the year of ¥54, up ¥12 from our previous forecast. This corresponds to the 12th consecutive year of dividend increases and a consolidated payout ratio of 27.1%. We conducted a two-for-one stock split on April 1, 2014, as part of our efforts to improve the environment for investing in our stock and increase its liquidity. We intend to maintain stable dividend levels going forward.
Our consolidated performance forecast for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2015, is for net sales of ¥210.0 billion, operating income of ¥36.0 billion, ordinary income of ¥36.0 billion and net income of ¥22.0 billion. (Exchange rates: Calculated on the basis of US$1.00 = ¥100 and €1.00 = ¥135.)
* Hematology field: The field of in vitro diagnostics that determines whether precise testing is necessary by analyzing the number, type and size of red, white and other blood cells.
* Non-hematology field: in vitro diagnostics fields excluding hematology but including hemostasis, immunochemistry, urinalysis, clinical chemistry and others.
Chairman and CEO