Honda has come out a winner and Mazda has made a dramatic comeback, while all other major automakers suffered shrinking sales in the domestic market.
April-September earnings reports, the last of which was released Friday, also show that Honda Motor Co., the nation’s No. 3 automaker, could become No. 2 at the end of the current business year, pulling ahead of Nissan Motor Co. in terms of consolidated sales.
For the entire business year through March 1999, Honda now projects consolidated sales of 6.4 trillion yen — exactly the same target earlier released by Nissan, which has long retained the No. 2 position but is now suffering from huge losses and weighed down by enormous debt.
Toyota Motor Corp., the industry leader, on Friday reported relatively stable performances despite the seriously slumping domestic market.
Its unconsolidated sales for April-September reached 3.76 trillion yen, down 0.9 percent from the same period last year, but its operating profit rose 0.6 percent to hit a record high of 286.9 billion yen, Toyota officials said.
Meanwhile, Toyota’s pretax profit, along with its net sales, declined for the first time in three years on an unconsolidated basis. Toyota officials blamed this on unrealized losses on its stockholdings as the TSE’s long slide accelerated during the past six months.
Mazda Motor Corp., which suffered a 12.6 billion yen operating loss in fiscal 1996, appears to have bounced back. Through desperate cost-cutting efforts, the firm enjoyed a 203.4 percent increase in operating profit and 262.7 percent jump in pretax profit on an unconsolidated basis from the April-September period of last year.
But all of the nation’s major automakers suffered a sharp drop in domestic sales, especially in sales of commercial vehicles, including trucks.
“We cannot be optimistic at all,” Iwao Okijima, executive vice president of Toyota told a press conference Friday, adding that economic prospects for the American and European markets, which helped the firms squeeze out profits, remain unclear now.
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