Mazda Motor Corp. posted 5.9 billion yen in unconsolidated pretax profits for the first half of fiscal 1999, down 68.8 percent from the same period last year, the country’s fifth-largest automaker reported Thursday.

Although its sales grew 3.3 percent to 734.7 billion yen due to favorable exports, mainly to North America, net profits declined 30.6 percent to 3.8 billion yen.

The automaker attributed the decline in pretax and net profits to the appreciation of the yen and expenses incurred through the restructuring of its affiliated companies and domestic dealers.

On a consolidated basis, the automaker posted 3.1 billion yen in pretax losses on sales of 1.09 trillion yen, which slipped 9.4 percent from the same period last year. However, Mazda managed to post 13.2 billion yen in net profits.

Mazda said it has lowered its domestic production projection for the full year through next March from 865,000 units to 820,000, with its sales forecast now standing at 325,000 units compared with 340,000, as earlier predicted.

Mazda expects its group-wide capital investment for this fiscal year to reach 60 billion yen, while its spending on research and development is projected at 82 billion yen.

Interest-bearing liabilities held by the Mazda group will total 545 billion yen at the end of March, down 34 percent from 830.4 billion yen last March.

Mazda also said it will absorb Mazda Tooling and Engineering Co., a wholly owned subsidiary for metal mold production, on Feb. 1 to boost its product development strength.

The Hiroshima-based subsidiary sees annual sales of about 8.63 billion yen.

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