Nissan Profit Rises 8%, Cuts Forecasts

TOKYO (AP) — Nissan's quarterly profit rose nearly 8 percent, but the Japanese automaker lowered its full-year forecasts Tuesday because of a sales slump in China and weakness in Europe.

Nissan Motor Co. reported a July-September net profit of 106 billion yen ($1.3 billion), slightly better than the 96 billion yen ($1.2 billion) profit forecast by analysts surveyed by FactSet. Quarterly sales improved 5.5 percent to 2.4 trillion yen ($30 billion).

Anti-Japanese sentiment has flared in recent months in China over a group of tiny islands controlled by Japan but also claimed by Beijing, setting off a boycott of Japanese products and some violent protests. Nissan's sales are also being hit by an economic slowdown in Europe.

Yokohama-based Nissan, which makes the March subcompact, Leaf electric car and the Infiniti luxury model, said it now expects a 320 billion yen ($4 billion) profit for the business year ending March 2013, down 6 percent from 341 billion the year before. It had previously expected to rake in 400 billion yen ($5 billion) in net profit for the year.

It lowered its vehicle sales forecast as well, to 5.08 million vehicles from 5.35 million vehicles.

That's still better than the 4.85 million vehicles it sold the previous year, when like other Japanese automakers Nissan was devastated by the parts supply disruptions caused by the earthquake and tsunami in northeastern Japan.

Chief Operating Officer Toshiyuki Shiga said Nissan's sales in China would be 175,000 vehicles lower in the year through March than it originally expected.

He said the company remains committed to China. Nissan isn't planning any major changes in its long-term growth plans in China, but it will weigh future investments cautiously, he said.

"Nissan has produced solid results despite the harsh conditions," Shiga told reporters.

Nissan has been a strong player in China, with a lineup of popular trucks and cars, and so it has been hit harder than Japanese rival Toyota Motor Corp., a relative latecomer to the Chinese market.

Toyota raised its full-year profit forecast Monday, although it did lower its vehicle sales forecast slightly to account for the China sales plunge.

Toyota now expects a 780 billion yen ($9.8 billion) profit for the full year, more optimistic than the initial 760 billion yen ($9.5 billion) forecast, and nearly triple what it earned the previous year.

Honda Motor Co. pointed to the China problems in lowering its full year profit forecast last week to 375 billion yen ($4.7 billion). Its new forecast represents a 78 percent rebound from the previous year.

Nissan said its vehicle sales grew in the U.S., Indonesia and India for the July-September quarter compared with a year earlier.

Nissan lowered its sales forecast for the full fiscal year to 9.82 trillion yen ($123 billion) from 10.3 trillion yen ($129 billion). The new forecast represents a 4.3 percent improvement on the previous year.

"Despite these near-term challenges, Nissan has responded decisively and remains on course to deliver profitable growth in its full-year performance," said President and Chief Executive Carlos Ghosn.

Nissan stock slipped 2 percent in Tokyo trading to 677 yen ($8).