Nissan's quarterly profit falls on weak Japan sales, yen

TOKYO – Japanese automaker Nissan Motor Co. reported Monday that its profit fell 15 per cent in the July-September quarter. Strong sales in North America and China failed to make up for sluggish demand in Japan and a stronger yen.

Profit in the last quarter at Nissan, based in Yokohama, southwest of Tokyo, was 146 billion yen ($1.4 billion), down from 173 billion yen a year earlier.

Quarterly sales slipped 12 per cent to 2.67 trillion yen ($26 billion).

In April-September, Nissan sold 2.6 million vehicles worldwide. Nissan is allied with Renault SA of France and its chief executive Carlos Ghosn also heads Renault.

Nissan, which makes the March subcompact, Infiniti luxury brand and the Leaf electric vehicle, kept its full fiscal year forecast, through March 2017, unchanged at 525 billion yen ($5 billion) profit. It expects to sell 5.6 million vehicles for the fiscal year, up 3 per cent from the previous year.

A stronger yen erodes the overseas earnings of Japanese exporters like Nissan when they are booked in Japanese currency, but the company stressed that it was on a growth track.

“Although Nissan faces market uncertainty and currency headwinds, we expect to continue to deliver solid earnings,” Ghosn said.

Nissan recently became the top shareholder in scandal-plagued Japanese rival Mitsubishi Motors Corp. after the company admitted it had been cheating on mileage tests to inflate fuel economy figures for its minicar models.

That followed an earlier scandal, over a systematic coverup of auto defects, which surfaced in the early 2000s but had been going on for decades.

Ghosn said he grabbed at an opportunity to gain scale as Mitsubishi shares nose-dived after the latest scandal surfaced. Bigger manufacturers are better placed to ride out intense competition in the auto industry and Nissan can hope to leverage Mitsubishi’s strengths in markets like Southeast Asia.


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