Mazda Motor Corp. said Thursday it has upwardly revised its fiscal 2001 earnings estimates, thanks to the favorable impact of cost-cutting efforts and a weakened yen.

Mazda said it now expects to log group net profits of 8.5 billion yen, well above the 1.3 billion yen forecast Nov. 12.

Group pretax profits are estimated at 18.5 billion yen, up from the previous forecast of 2 billion yen.

The automaker, 33.3 percent of which is owned by U.S. automaker Ford Motor Co., said the group’s operating profits rose 57.3 billion yen from a year earlier.

Of this increase, 41.2 billion yen was attributed to reduced fixed costs, 32.5 billion yen to a weakened yen and 28.1 billion yen to a reduction in manufacturing and other costs.

Mazda lowered its in-house exchange rates for the yen in fiscal 2001 to 125 yen to the U.S. dollar from 110.5 yen the year before. It also lowered its rates against the euro from 110.3 yen to 110.4 yen.

As Mazda depends more on exports than any other Japanese automaker, a weaker yen has a particularly favorable impact on its earnings.

Mazda expects its group domestic auto sales for fiscal 2001 to come in at 288,000 units, down from 334,000 units the previous year. It expects its sales in overseas markets, however, to reach 660,000 units, up from the 630,000 units it logged in fiscal 2000.

The group’s global sales are projected at 948,000 units, down from the 964,000 units posted the year before.

“There’s no doubting Mazda is back,” stated Mazda President Mark Fields. “Compared to last year, we have improved our net profit by 163.7 billion yen, a record turnaround in our 82-year history.

“This is a very balanced performance that begins with strong operating results. Mazda’s operations in all regions of the world will be profitable except Europe, where our loss will be reduced substantially year on year . . . We are now poised to grow the business.”

Mazda is scheduled to announce its fiscal 2001 earnings results on May 15.

In fiscal 2001, Mazda posted group net losses of 155.24 billion yen and group pretax losses of 29.77 billion yen on sales of 2.02 trillion yen.

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