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Nissan Profit Beats Estimates as Rogue Paces U.S. Sales Rise

  • Automaker benefits from record industrywide deliveries in U.S.
  • U.S. sales of the Rogue crossover surged 44% last year

Nissan Motor Co. reported profit that beat analyst estimates as the Rogue crossover drove increased demand in the U.S., the Japanese automaker’s biggest market.

Net income in the quarter through December rose to 127.2 billion yen ($1.1 billion), the company said in a statement Wednesday. The carmaker topped the 120.6 billion yen average of eight analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

With Americans buying a record number of new vehicles last year, Nissan joined other automakers in riding the wave of low gasoline prices, cheap credit and an improving labor market. The company’s sales gain outpaced peers Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co. for the third-straight year, with Rogue deliveries surging 44 percent, the biggest jump among top models.

“It’s very clear the driving force is North America,” Seiji Sugiura, an analyst at Tokai Tokyo Research Center, said before Nissan released its results. “Their new cars have contributed to improvement in both profitability and sales.”

Nissan fell 1.8 percent to 985.3 yen in Tokyo before releasing earnings. The benchmark Topix index declined 3 percent.

Shares of carmakers including Nissan have plunged this year as the yen has strengthened, climbing past 115 per dollar for the first time in more than a year on Tuesday. Investors are pouring into Japan’s currency as a haven amid concerns that global growth is fading. Nissan has declined 23 percent in 2016, compared with declines of 18 percent for Toyota and 26 percent for Honda.

  • Nissan’s third-quarter sales climbed to 3.01 trillion yen, compared with 3.03 trillion yen analyst estimate
  • Operating profit climbed to 192.6 billion yen, beat 177.7 billion yen analyst estimate
  • Maintained full-year forecast for 535 billion yen net income, 12.25 trillion yen sales

Chief Executive Officer Carlos Ghosn has plans to boost domestic production this year to back above 1 million vehicles, using more local capacity to take advantage of a yen that’s still weaker than when the carmaker shifted output abroad earlier this decade. The benefit of exporting cars from Japan would be eroded as the yen gains ground.

Nissan sales increased 9.4 percent in North America last year, with deliveries in the U.S. climbing to a record 1.48 million units on demand for the Rogue and Murano crossovers and Infiniti Q50 sedan.

In China, where Nissan is the top-selling Japanese automaker, deliveries rose 6.3 percent to 1.25 million units. Sales were driven by the Qashqai crossover and Lannia sedan, which helped passenger-car deliveries exceed 1 million units for the first time.

Nissan’s sales dropped 12 percent in Japan, the second straight year of decline after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government raised the sales tax in early 2014, sapping demand. The company’s domestic deliveries have fallen for 19 consecutive months.

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