Profitability and sales improved at most major Japanese chemical companies in the first three quarters of the fiscal year that will end on March 31. Sumitomo Chemical led the pack with a 62% increase in net income for the nine months to $605 million, as its sales rose 16% to $9.3 billion. Sumitomo credits higher margins and gains from the merger of its subsidiary Sumitomo Pharmaceuticals with Dainippon Pharmaceutical. Another big gainer, Mitsubishi Chemical, raised its net profit by 49% to $615 million. Sales at the giant rose 9% to $14.9 billion. Mitsubishi credits strong market conditions and a gain in the value of some of its stock market investments. Shin-Etsu Chemical continued to raise its net income, this time by more than 20% to $713 million. Sales rose 14% to $6.9 billion. The firm attributes its performance to strong U.S. demand for polyvinyl chloride as well as buoyant market conditions for silicon wafers. Meanwhile, net income dropped more than 71% to $18 million at Dainippon Ink & Chemical as the company wrote off most of the value of its U.S. subsidiary Reichhold, which it sold to local managers in September. Dainippon sales rose 1.3% to $6.4 billion.