Honda's quarterly profit rises despite China woes, projects annual profit growth amid weak yen

TOKYO – Honda’s fiscal fourth quarter profit rose nearly 6 per cent as the Japanese automaker’s recovery from floods in Thailand the previous year offset recent sales losses in China.

Honda Motor Co. reported Friday a quarterly profit of 75.7 billion yen ($765 million), up from 71.5 billion yen the same period the previous year. Quarterly sales jumped 14 per cent to 2.74 trillion yen ($27.7 billion).

Also coming as good news for Japanese exporters like Honda is the weak yen, as it raises the value of overseas earnings and helps bring down its product prices abroad. Such benefits are expected to grow over the coming months for all Japanese automakers.

The dollar has been approaching 100 yen levels, up by more than 20 per cent from late last year.

For the fiscal year ended March 31, the maker of the Odyssey minivan, Acura sedan and Asimo robot reported a 367 billion yen ($3.7 billion) profit, up a solid 73.6 per cent on year.

It’s expecting to do even better this fiscal year through March 2014, with a 580 billion yen ($5.8 billion) profit.

Honda President Takanobu Ito categorized the foreign exchange shifts as corrections.

“The dollar trading at 78 yen and 80 yen was too extreme,” he told reporters on the sidelines of the recent Shanghai Auto Show.

A sore point for Honda and other Japanese is the territorial dispute over tiny islands with China that surfaced last year, setting off riots and boycotts. But sales have been gradually recovering.

Honda has been recording strong sales in the rest of Asia, jumping back from the sales drops caused by the floods in Thailand in 2011.

The Japanese have also been recovering from supply disruptions caused by the March 2011 quake and tsunami that devastated its businesses.

Tokyo-based Honda expects to sell 4.43 million vehicles for the fiscal year through March 2014. It sold 4 million vehicles for the fiscal year ended March 31.

It is also expecting to sell 17.4 million motorcycles around the world, up from 15.5 million.

Mazda Motor Corp. reported Friday it swung back into the black from deep losses the previous year.

The Hiroshima-based automaker had a 34.3 billion yen ($347 million) profit for the fiscal year through March, and is expecting a 70 billion yen ($707 million) profit for the fiscal year through March 2014.

Japan’s top automaker, Toyota Motor Corp., reports earnings May 8, while Nissan Motor Co. is scheduled for May 10.


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