Chinese infant formula firm Synutra International has insisted it has seen its core business return to profitability in the fourth quarter at the end of a year which saw sales fall and losses widen.

Synutra, which cut its profit guidance three times throughout the year, said the impact of price increases in April 2012 had started to ease.

“We were highly encouraged with our ongoing efforts to stabilise our core branded powdered formula business and return to profitability in the fiscal fourth quarter. We believe the short-term negative impact of our price increase implemented in April 2012 has diminished as we continue to nurture and invest in our brands to garner broader trust at the retail level,” chairman and CEO Liang Zhang said.

However, fourth-quarter sales were down 14.6% year-on-year while its net income more than halved.

Over the year to the end of March, Synutra booked a 22% fall in net sales to $265.8m. The company run up a net loss of $64.2m, compared to $17m a year earlier amid higher costs and interest expenses.