TOKYO - Nissan said Friday that its annual net profit had barely moved from a year earlier despite market conditions that helped rivals Toyota (IW 1000/8) and Honda (IW 1000/30) book soaring profits.

The pair logged huge gains largely owing to a sharply weaker yen and cost-cutting that helped inflate their bottom line.

Nissan, part-owned by Renault (IW 1000/78), has also benefited from the yen's decline with its fourth-quarter earnings jumping due to the weaker currency.

But its heavy exposure to China, the world's biggest vehicle market, and recession-riddled Europe slammed the brakes on growth.

"Compared with its rivals, Nissan faces several uncertain factors, including its relations with Renault, its electric vehicle strategy and the China issue," said Tatsuya Mizuno, auto analyst with Mizuno Credit Advisory.

Japan's automakers suffered from a diplomatic row between Tokyo and Beijing that sparked huge riots across China and a damaging consumer boycott of Japanese brands.

Nissan's sales to China, which make up almost one-quarter of its total sales, far higher than its domestic rivals, fell 5.3% on-year to 1.18 million vehicles, it said.

While sales to China last month were better than a year earlier, Nissan conceded it has lost market share as Volkswagen and General Motors tried to capitalize on their Japanese rivals troubles in the country.