Mitsubishi Posts First Quarterly Profit In Over A Year

Japanese automaker posted its first quarterly profit in five quarters, bolstered by cost cuts and recovering auto demand worldwide.

TOKYO (AP) -- Mitsubishi Motors posted its first quarterly profit in more than a year, bolstered by cost cuts and recovering auto demand worldwide.

The Japanese maker of the Galant sedan and Outlander SUV on Wednesday reported a net profit of 10.7 billion yen ($118.3 million) for the October-December quarter, a turnaround from a year-earlier loss of 17.5 billion yen.

The result marked its first net profit since July-September 2008.

Sales in the fiscal third quarter fell 15 percent to 379.1 billion yen, but lower labor and sales costs led to an operating profit of 12.7 billion yen. Last year, Mitsubishi recorded an operating loss of 5.4 billion yen.

Mitsubishi, one of the smaller Japanese automakers, left its annual forecasts unchanged, saying it remains on track to end the fiscal year through March 31 in the black. It expects a net profit of 5 billion yen on sales of 1.5 trillion yen.

The carmaker, however, said it aims to sell more cars than planned this year. It raised its sales volume target by 3 percent to 960,000 vehicles from 932,000.

Although revenue for the nine months through December tumbled 43 percent, business began picking up late last year. A recovering global economy, various government incentives and the company's own sales promotions combined to spur demand.

December vehicle sales in Japan rose for the second month in a row, and exports jumped 23 percent in the first year-on-year rise in 14 months, according to Mitsubishi. Strong sales in China drove Asia-bound vehicle shipments up 146 percent.

Its net loss for the April-December period widened to 25.7 billion yen, compared with a 4.7 billion yen loss last year.

Mitsubishi credited a stabilizing economy for its improving prospects but remained cautious about the outlook.

"The economy is far off from performing at pre-crisis levels," Mitsubishi said in its report. "In particular, in Japan, the economic environment remained severe, with wages and employment levels continuing to worsen."

Mitsubishi reports earnings based on Japanese accounting standards.

In trading Wednesday, Mitsubishi shares rose 0.8 percent to 127 yen, slightly beating the benchmark Nikkei 225 index's 0.3 percent gain.

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