Honda Motor Co. said on April 28 it lost $1.9 billion in the fourth quarter due to weak sales, but said it was hopeful the giant U.S. car market might be over the worst of the slump.
However, Japan's second-largest automaker posted a profit for the year, helped by brisk demand for motorcycles, particularly in emerging economies. While Honda's automobile sales fell by 10.4% last year demand for its motorcycles rose 8.5%. Honda is expected to be the only one of Japan's top three automakers to make a profit for the past financial year, helped by robust sales of two-wheelers.
For the three months to March, Honda logged a net loss of 186.1 billion yen (US$ 1.9 billion), against a year-earlier profit of 25.4 billion yen. It reported an operating loss of 283.0 billion yen as revenue tumbled 41.6% from a year earlier.
For the full business year to March, Honda's net earnings slumped 77% to 137.0 billion yen. Operating profit dived 80.1% to 189.6 billion yen as revenue declined 16.6%.
"The real economy continued to deteriorate in the U.S. and Europe, and the recession became more serious," said Honda chief financial officer Yoichi Hojo. Asia's economy, including Japan, also worsened, he added.
Japanese car makers have taken a heavy blow from the global economic downturn, which has caused sales to plunge. A stronger yen has been an extra headache, reducing the value of companies' overseas earnings and making it harder for them to stay competitive in foreign markets. But Honda said it saw some glimmers of optimism. "In North America, I think we have hit the bottom, but it's still uncertain how we can rebound," said Honda executive vice president Koichi Kondo.
Honda said in January that it was cutting more than 3,000 jobs in Japan.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2009