Nissan Profits Surge

Unlike its peers in Japan, the pressure of the yen didn't affect company's earnings.

Nissan on Feb. 9 said its net profit in the fiscal third quarter jumped 78% as sales in Asia and China offset weak demand at home and the impact of a strong yen.

Unlike its peers Honda and Toyota, Nissan saw third quarter profits rise despite the pressures of softer domestic demand and a strong yen, which makes exports more expensive and erodes repatriated earnings.

Both Honda and Toyota saw their profits fall by around 40% in the fiscal third quarter.

However, Japan's big three automakers have all also raised their annual net profit outlooks due to strong performances in the nine months to December, suggesting the industry is weathering the yen's surge better than expected.

Nissan said its net profit in the three months ended December was 80.1 billion yen (US$972 million), compared with 45 billion yen in the same period a year earlier. The third quarter figure beat expectations for a 58.5 billion yen profit based on a survey of six analysts compiled by the Nikkei business daily.

However, Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn warned of the risk of rising input costs and further volatility in the rate of the yen versus other major currencies in the current quarter. "Though we foresee risks in rising commodity prices and exchange rate volatility in the fourth quarter, we will continue to deliver good results while remaining focused on our strategies to pursue profitable growth."

The result comes despite a 20.5% plunge in Nissan's Japan sales in the three months to December following the expiration of government subsidies to encourage the purchase of environmentally friendly vehicles.

However this was offset by strong demand in Asia, where sales grew 22.1% and in China, which saw a 20.4% rise in terms of units sold.

The automaker, which is roughly 43%t owned by French automaker Renault, also hiked its annual profit forecast to 315 billion yen, up from a projected 270 billion. It forecasts an operating profit of 535 billion yen and sales of 8.8 trillion, and is assuming that the dollar will average 80.9 yen and the euro 110.2 yen for the fourth quarter.

Net profit in the nine months to December soared 434.5 percent to 288.4 billion yen, the automaker said in an earnings statement.

The automaker aims to launch 10 all-new products globally in the current fiscal year.

In December it launched its all-electric Leaf in Japan and the United States, with an eye on beginning sales in several countries in Europe later this year.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2011

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