Mitsubishi Motors Corp. on Monday reported a return to the black for the first time in three years, posting 11.3 billion yen in consolidated net profits in the 2001 business year.

The company reported group net losses of 278.1 billion yen a year earlier.

MMC, whose automobile division just began the second year of a three-year restructuring plan, had committed to breaking even in the business year to March 31. It has so far met the targets following drastic cost-cutting steps, according to the firm.

Owned 37.3 percent by German-American automaker DaimlerChrysler AG, MMC registered 40.2 billion yen in consolidated operating profits. The company recorded consolidated operating losses of 73.9 billion yen a year earlier.

It logged 11.9 billion yen in group pretax profits, compared with 94 billion yen in pretax losses a year earlier.

MMC’s group sales came to 3.2 trillion yen, down 2.3 percent from 3.276 trillion yen a year earlier, as it suffered from a decline in domestic sales.

For the current business year, MMC expects group sales of 3.4 trillion yen, and consolidated operating profits of 77 billion yen. It also seeks a record 38 billion yen in group net profits, the firm said.

At a news conference in Tokyo, MMC reported faster-than-expected progress in its restructuring plan.

“Our cost reduction is far ahead of schedule,” said Rolf Eckrodt, vice president and chief operating officer of MMC’s automobile division, who is to be appointed as the firm’s president and chief executive officer at a shareholders’ meeting in June.

During the past year, MMC brought down material costs by 6.5 percent out of a planned reduction of 15 percent by the end of fiscal 2003.

The firm also closed its Oe plant in Aichi Prefecture and will scale down one of its assembly lines at the Mizushima plant in Okayama Prefecture this year as part of a plan to reduce domestic production capacity by 20 percent by the end of fiscal 2003.

It has also reduced by 400 the number of group employees it plans to cut, to 9,100, through measures including early retirement programs.

MMC also spun off and outsourced some operations to focus on core businesses.

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