Nissan Motor Co.’s strong quarterly earnings – and upgraded forecast for the full year – signal that its two chief Japanese rivals, Toyota and Honda, will also deliver solid numbers, industry analysts are forecasting.
Nissan delivered a 172.8 billion yen, or $1.4 billion, profits for the July-September quarter, the second in its fiscal year. That was up from 124.9 billion yen during the same period a year ago. And the maker said it expects to see a 17% increase in net income, to 535 billion yen, or $4.4 billion, for the full fiscal year ending next March.
“We are increasing our financial forecast for the full year as our product offensive, our continued financial discipline and the ongoing benefits of our Alliance strategy is delivering better than expected results,” said CEO Carlos Ghosn.
Nissan reported that sales during the latest quarter were up 13%, to 3.03 trillion yen, or $25.2 billion.
Industry analysts credit a variety of factors for Nissan’s improved performance. Among other things, the weak yen has helped. But there’s also what Ghosn described as “encouraging demand for our vehicles in North America and a rebound in Western Europe.”
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On the downside, the maker has suffered from stagnating sales in the home Japanese market where overall consumer demand has been hurt by a rise in consumption taxes. The Russian market, where Nissan is a major player, has seen a roughly 50% drop in demand in recent years. And, after decades of growth, the huge Chinese market has suddenly entered a severe slowdown.
Nissan is betting the U.S. can continue to be the engine of its growth, especially as it updates and expands its line-up. The maker is just launching an all-new version of the slow-selling Titan pickup and betting it will finally gain traction against key domestic U.S. models like the top-selling Ford F-150. Low gas prices and booming truck demand helped Ford double its third quarter income while General Motors delivered record earnings for the three-month period.
“The strong U.S. demand is making up for weakness in many other markets, including Japan,” said Seiji Sugiura, an analyst at Tokai Tokyo Research Center, told the Bloomberg news service. “But they can’t count on the U.S. forever because the market will peak out and their model mix will deteriorate.”
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Nissan CEO Ghosn is also insisting on tough new “cost discipline” to deliver even better earnings in the months ahead.
The yen could also help, Nissan now predicting the currency will slip to 119.4 to the dollar, compared to an earlier forecast of 115.
Nissan was the first of the Japanese automakers to report its July-September earnings, and its strong numbers, analysts suggest, should be echoed by both Toyota and Honda, those makers reporting later this week.
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