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MMC’s net profit surges to record ¥88 billion

Kyodo

Mitsubishi Motors Corp. said Wednesday its group net profit for the April-December period soared fivefold from a year earlier to a record ¥88.41 billion, driven by the yen’s depreciation despite a decline in sales in Thailand.

Its operating profit grew 135.4 percent to ¥96.30 billion on sales of ¥1.52 trillion, up 18.4 percent.

The yen’s fall versus the dollar and other major currencies positively impacted operating profit by ¥55 billion, the automaker said.

Global sales for the first nine months of fiscal 2013 increased 7 percent from a year earlier to 776,000 vehicles, with those in Japan rising 5 percent to 97,000 units thanks to brisk demand for the eK Wagon minivehicle.

In North America, sales grew 12 percent to 70,000 units on strong demand for MMC’s mainstay Outlander Sport in the United States, while those in Europe climbed 10 percent to 149,000 units.

However, in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations region, sales fell 13 percent from the year before to 184,000 units due to sluggish performance in Thailand, where a government incentive program for first-time car buyers ended in 2012.

In China, strong sales of the ASX compact sport utility vehicle and Pajero Sport manufactured in a joint venture with Guangzhou Automobile Group pushed up overall sales in the country by 85 percent to 54,000 vehicles.

Reflecting its business recovery following a sales slump caused by the revelation in 2000 of defect coverups, the automaker is looking to resume dividend payments for the first time in more than 16 years in fiscal 2013, which ends March 31.

As for the full business year, MMC kept intact its group net profit estimate at ¥100 billion, up 163.3 percent from the year before. Operating profit is projected to gain 78.1 percent to ¥120 billion on sales of ¥2.11 trillion, up 16.2 percent.

New president named

Mitsubishi Motors Corp. said Wednesday it will promote Managing Director Tetsuro Aikawa to president on June 25, replacing Osamu Masuko, who will become chief executive officer and chairman.

Aikawa, 59, will also serve as chief operating officer. With the appointment, the automaker will create CEO and chief operating officer posts.

Chairman Takashi Nishioka, 77, who doubles as an adviser at Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd., will step down from the post, the company said.

Under the leadership of Masuko, 64, who became president in 2005, the automaker has improved its financial standing since conducting a public stock offering in January to buy back preferred shares held by four group companies.

Aikawa, a graduate of the University of Tokyo, worked for many years in passenger vehicles development divisions after joining the company in 1978.

His father, Kentaro, is a former president and chairman of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, a major shareholder in the automaker.