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VOL. 36 | NO. 43 | Friday, October 26, 2012




Mitsubishi Motors profit improves on cost cuts

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TOKYO (AP) — Mitsubishi Motor Corp.'s fiscal second-quarter net profit improved 60 percent to 10.1 billion yen ($126 million) on cost cuts, but the Japanese automaker lowered its projection Tuesday for China, where a bitter territorial dispute is sending sales plunging.

Mitsubishi, which reported a 6.3 billion yen profit for the July-September period the previous year, is among the Japanese automakers making a solid recovery after last year's earthquake and tsunami disaster that disrupted supply chains. The floods in Thailand that followed added to production woes.

Mitsubishi's quarterly sales dipped 7 percent to 440.7 billion yen ($5.5 billion) as a strong yen and economic woes in Europe added to the damage, the Tokyo-based manufacturer said Tuesday.

Mitsubishi stuck to its profit forecast for the full fiscal year at 13 billion yen ($162 million), down 46 percent from the previous year. It lowered its sales projection to 1.83 trillion yen ($22.9 billion) from an earlier 1.98 trillion yen ($24.8 billion), which will mark a 1 percent rise on year.

The maker of the i-MiEV electric car and Outlander sports-utility vehicle now expects to sell 42,000 vehicles in China, lower than the initial forecast for 73,000 vehicles, and falling short of the 63,000 vehicles sold the previous fiscal year.

Violent protests and a call to boycott Japanese goods have erupted in some parts of China after Japan nationalized a group of tiny uninhabited islands southwest of Japan, controlled by Tokyo but also claimed by Beijing. Japanese shops, auto dealerships and people driving Japanese cars have been attacked.

Mitsubishi also lowered its global sales forecast by 46,000 units to 1.04 million vehicles, although the latest forecast still marks a 4 percent improvement from the previous fiscal year. Mitsubishi lowered its projections across all major regions, including Japan, North America and Europe, as well as China.

Mitsubishi said it was upbeat about boosting production in emerging markets, which hold growth potential, and will reduce costs by increasing local parts purchases to avert being hurt by an unfavorable exchange rate.

All Japanese automakers have been hard hit by anti-Japanese sentiments in China, and recent sales have fallen to about half of what they were before the territorial dispute surfaced.

Among other Japanese makers, Honda Motor Co.'s quarterly profit surged 36 percent to 82.2 billion yen ($1 billion), bouncing back from the tsunami disaster.

But the maker of the Accord sedan and Asimo robot was forced to lower its annual forecasts Monday over the China problem. Honda expects to sell 4.1 million vehicles in the year through March 2013, down from an earlier 4.3 million vehicles. That's still an improvement over the 3.1 million vehicles for the previous disaster-struck fiscal year.

Toyota Motor Corp., Japan's top automaker, and Nissan Motor Co., allied with Renault SA of France, report earnings next week. Mazda Motor Corp. reports financial results Wednesday.

Mitsubishi stock, which has lost about a third of its value over the last year, closed up 1.5 percent in Tokyo trading shortly after earnings were announced.

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