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Thanks to cost-reduction efforts and improved performances in North America and Europe, Mazda Motor Corp. reported Thursday that it posted its first consolidated net profits in six years for the fiscal year to March 31.

Mazda plans to resume dividends of 4 yen per share, also for the first time in six years. The net income improved from losses of 6.8 billion yen the previous year to profits of 38.7 billion yen in fiscal 1998. Group sales were 2.06 trillion yen, representing an increase of 0.8 percent from the previous year.

Operating profits meanwhile increased 88.2 percent to 62.5 billion yen, and pretax profits jumped 409.9 percent to 46.9 billion yen, Mazda officials said.

Mazda has proceeded with cost-reduction projects under top management officials from Ford Motor Co., who thoroughly reviewed the process of design and parts procurement.

On a consolidated basis, Mazda enjoyed profits of 19.1 billion yen in North America, in sharp contrast to losses of 10 billion yen in the same area in fiscal 1997. In Europe, the operating income improved from losses of 3.1 billion yen to profits of 2.6 billion yen.

For the current fiscal year, Mazda now projects net profits of 40 billion yen, the highest ever for the company, on group sales of 2.59 trillion yen, up 25.9 percent compared with the previous year.

Affiliate firms to be covered in Mazda’s consolidated financial statement for the current fiscal year will increase from 42 to 146, in accordance with changes in official auditing rules in Japan.

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