A Nissan vehicle grille on the lot Justin Sullivan, Getty Images

FINANCIAL ROUNDUP: Nissan Quarterly Profit Jumps on North American Sales

Volkswagen lowers its global sales forecast not long after passing Toyota as world's largest automaker ... Peugeot is profitable again ... Panasonic profits soar.

TOKYO — Nissan announced that its three-month net profit jumped 36.3% to $1.3 billion on strong sales in North America, Europe and China, but observers warned that overall Chinese demand may be weakening.

The benefit of a sharply weaker yen also drove up the firm’s performance, said Carlos Ghosn, president and CEO. “Nissan delivered solid financial results in the first three months of the fiscal year due primarily to strong demand for our core products in North America and Europe,” he said in a statement.

Japan’s No. 2 automaker said its quarterly net profit reached 152.8 billion yen ($1.24 billion), while operating profit jumped 58.0% to 193.7 billion yen ($1.57 billion). Sales were up 17.6% to 2.90 trillion ($23.44 billion) yen in the period. The firm left unchanged its annual forecasts for a net profit of 485.0 billion yen ($3.92 billion), operating profit of 675.0 billion yen ($5.46 billion) and sales of 12.10 trillion yen ($97.80 billion).

VOLKSWAGEN: BERLIN — Volkswagen, which recently topped Toyota for the title of world’s biggest automaker (for the half-year, at least), lowered its global sales forecast for 2015 Wednesday, citing weaker demand from China and other key markets.

Volkswagen said turnover would stagnate this year, revising an outlook for a “moderate” increase in customer deliveries. “We are keeping a very close watch on global macroeconomic trends, especially where there are uncertainties such as in the Chinese, Brazilian and Russian markets,” CEO Martin Winterkorn said in a statement.

Second-quarter sales dipped 2.7% to 2.55 million units, with foreign turnover seeing an even steeper decline of 3.8%. During the first half, sales slipped 0.5% to 5.04 million units, and between April and June, net profit fell 16% to 2.67 billion euros ($2.95 billion), coming in slightly below the 2.9 billion euros ($3.20 billion) forecast by financial services company FactSet.

PEUGEOT: PARIS — French automaker Peugeot on Wednesday announced a return to profitability in the first half of the year with a net profit of 571 million euros ($630.20 million), sending its share price soaring.

PSA Peugeot Citroen shares were up 5.54% to 18.77 euros ($20.64) in generally flat mid-afternoon trading on France’s CAC 40. The group had posted a 114 million euro ($125.82 million) loss in the first half of 2014. Analysts at Morgan Stanley called the group’s first positive semester since 2011 “very impressive” given the industry’s tight margins, saying Peugeot had benefitted from its restructuring efforts and favorable exchange rates.

The turnaround comes a little over a year after Carlos Tavares, former number two at rival Renault, took the helm when PSA was on the brink of bankruptcy. In April 2014, the French state and Chinese auto group Dongfeng each took a 14% stake in the family firm in exchange for a 3.0 billion euro ($3.31 billion) capital injection.

PANASONIC: TOKYO — Panasonic said on Wednesday that its net profit soared 57% from a year ago, mainly thanks to a tax accounting change as the electronics giant continues to reshape its business.

The company’s earnings for the three months to June surged to 59.52 billion yen ($481.08 million), while operating profit edged down 7% to 76.56 billion yen ($618.81 million). Sales were almost flat at 1.86 trillion yen ($15.03 billion) from a year ago. The upbeat net profit was also supported by Panasonic’s lesser-known auto parts unit.

The division’s bottom line grew 35% from the same period last year “due mainly to rationalization in materials, fixed-cost reductions and the positive impact of exchange rate fluctuation,” the company said in a statement.

LG ELECTRONICS: SEOUL — LG Electronics reported a 45% drop in its second-quarter net profit on Wednesday, owing to sluggish smartphone sales and unfavorable currency rates.

Net profit in the April-June period plunged to 226.39 billion won ($19.55 million) from 411.83 billion won ($35.56 million) a year earlier, the company said in a statement. Operating profit dropped 60% on-year to 244 billion won ($19.34 million), while sales shed 7.6% to 1.39 trillion won ($1.20 billion).

LG, the world’s second-largest TV maker, said the second quarter was “more challenging than expected” because of a sluggish global TV market and intense competition. But it predicted it could recover lost ground in the third quarter with new competitive products and more effective marketing initiatives.

HITACHI: TOKYO — Hitachi said Wednesday that its net profit surged 31.3% in the April-June quarter, aided by a sharp drop in the yen, cost cuts and strong results in its auto and railway divisions.

The vast conglomerate booked net income of 54.9 billion yen ($443.46 million) for the first quarter of the fiscal year, up from 41.8 billion ($33.76 million) yen a year earlier. Sales climbed 6.9% to 2.3 trillion yen ($18.58 billion) for the three months, said the company which sells everything from batteries to nuclear plants.

A sharp drop in the yen boosted major Japanese exporters including Hitachi, making them more competitive overseas and inflating their bottom line. The company also pointed to a solid performance in its auto and electronic-related products as well as its lifts and railway system divisions. 

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2015

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