Nissan Raises Annual Forecast on Strong Sales in Asia

Nissan Motor Co., Japan’s third- largest automaker, raised its profit and global unit-sales forecasts after boosting net income by almost four times in the last quarter.

Nissan expects 270 billion yen ($3.3 billion) profit in the year ending March, compared with an earlier forecast of 150 billion yen, the Yokohama-based company said in a statement today. The carmaker posted 102 billion yen in net income for the three months ended Sept. 30 as sales rose to 2.27 trillion yen from 1.87 trillion yen a year earlier.

“Nissan’s forecasts exceed the market’s consensus and its own guidance,” said Mitsuo Shimizu, an analyst at Cosmo Securities Co. in Tokyo. “Amid concerns about the global auto industry, investors may react positively to Nissan’s performance.”

The maker of the Juke compact crossover follows Honda Motor Co. in raising its profit outlook even as the yen trades near a 15-year high against the dollar, reducing the value of overseas earnings. While Nissan expects to benefit from trimming purchasing costs and the introduction of new cars such as its all-electric Leaf compact, the yen will weigh on earnings during the second half, the company said.

Nissan rose 3.9 percent to 721 yen at the 3 p.m. close of trading on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, before the earnings announcement. The shares have fallen 10 percent this year.

Leaf, Micra, Juke

The automaker raised its full-year vehicle sales target and now expects to sell 4.1 million units from an earlier target of 3.8 million.

Nissan will also benefit from introducing 10 new models this fiscal year including the Leaf, Micra and Juke compact cars, Chief Operating Officer Toshiyuki Shiga, told reporters in Yokohama.

Even so, the company estimates net income growth may slow during the remainder of the fiscal year. Based on today’s revised forecast, Nissan may post profit of 62 billion yen during the six months through March 30. That estimate would be more than two-thirds lower than the fiscal first-half profit of 208 billion yen, according to its statement today.

Second-Half Earnings

The strength of the yen which reduced first-half operating profit by 55 billion yen, may cut earnings by 130 billion yen during the second, Nissan said today.

The company today revised its full-year exchange-rate assumption to 84.4 yen to the dollar from an earlier forecast of 90 yen. The company expects the yen to average 80 yen against the dollar in the fiscal second-half, it said.

The dollar traded at 80.97 yen as of 5:07 p.m. in Tokyo after strengthening to 80.22 yen on Nov. 1, the lowest level since April 1995.

Nissan also faces a demand drop in Japan after a government subsidy program ended and an unclear outlook in the U.S., where near 10 percent unemployment forced the Federal Reserve to buy an additional $600 billion of Treasuries.

“Nissan faces a very difficult situation at home,” said Yuuki Sakurai, who helps oversee the equivalent of $8.7 billion as chief executive officer and president at Fukoku Capital Management Inc. in Tokyo. In the U.S., “quantitative easing won’t necessarily lead to an improved economy if people are hesitating to borrow because they’re worried they won’t be able to repay.”

After Japan’s government subsidy program for fuel-efficient cars ended Sept. 8, Nissan’s deliveries in October plunged 31 percent. Sales in its domestic market rose 15.3 percent in the fiscal first half.

Leaf Electric Car

To boost sales, Chief Executive Officer Carlos Ghosn started selling an updated March compact this year. Nissan has shifted Japan production of the model to Thailand, which helps the company reduce impact of the strong yen on exports to other countries in the region.

Nissan’s Shiga today said the automaker also plans to cut purchasing costs by 185 billion yen to offset the yen.

The company will begin selling its Leaf electric car next month in Japan, U.S. and some countries in Europe. Nissan and partner Renault SA plan to have capacity to build 500,000 electric cars a year by 2012.

To contact the reporter on this story: Makiko Kitamura in Tokyo at mkitamura1@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Kae Inoue at kinoue@bloomberg.net

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