Suzuki, Daihatsu, Fuji Heavy Industries Lift Forecasts

Growth in India and China expected

Japanese car makers Suzuki, Daihatsu and Fuji Heavy Industries on Nov. 2 raised their outlooks for the current financial year in the latest sign of an emerging recovery in the troubled industry.

Suzuki Motor said net profit fell 63% in the fiscal first half from a year earlier to 12.5 billion yen (US$140 million), due to weak sales.

But the manufacturer of small cars and motorcycles boosted its forecast for the rest of the financial year to March 2010, saying the interim results were not as bad as expected, partly due to cost cuts.

Suzuki, which owns a major stake in India's largest carmaker Maruti Suzuki India, projected an annual net profit of 15 billion yen, up from a 5 billion yen profit it had forecast in May. "I think we still have a good chance to grow in India and China," Suzuki chairman and president Osamu Suzuki said.

Fuji Heavy, the maker of Subaru brand vehicles, posted a net loss of 21.7 billion yen for the fiscal first half to September, against a year-earlier profit of 4.40 billion yen. At the same time the company, part owned by Toyota Motor, narrowed its net loss forecast for the full fiscal year to 25 billion yen from 55 billion yen.

Daihatsu Motor Co., a small car making subsidiary of Toyota, said net profit fell 60% during the six months to September, to 6.8 billion yen. But it boosted its net profit forecast for the full year to 13 billion yen, up from an earlier target of 8 billion yen.

The trio followed Honda Motor in upgrading their outlooks for the rest of the year, helped by government incentives in the U.S., Europe and Japan for people to trade in their cars for more fuel-efficient new vehicles.

Suzuki and Daihatsu are among the few Japanese carmakers to remain profitable during the economic slump because sales of the smaller cars in which they specialize have been less severely affected by the downturn. But Suzuki's chairman struck a cautious note about the outlook, noting that tax breaks and subsidies for cars were being wound down in many countries.

"In the fiscal second half, many countries have used up their budgets allocated for incentive subsidies," he said. "With many economies falling into deflation, prospects for the year remain unclear."

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2009

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