Nissan reports record operating profit

by Akemi Nakamura

Nissan Motor Co. announced Wednesday a record group operating profit of 737 billion yen for the year through March, up 50.7 percent from the previous year, thanks mainly to increased car sales at home and reduced purchasing costs.

Releasing its latest estimate for fiscal 2002, Nissan said its group pretax profit surged 71 percent from fiscal 2001 to 709 billion yen and net profit rose 33 percent to 495 billion yen.

Group sales are estimated to have reached 6.85 trillion yen, up 10.6 percent, with worldwide car sales of 2.77 million units, up 6.7 percent. Nissan plans to report its final earnings results next month.

The brisk performance has probably enabled the automaker to achieve at least two of the three objectives it set in its three-year plan through fiscal 2004: an 8 percent group operating profit margin and elimination of interest-bearing group debts in its automotive operations.

Nissan’s operating profit margin on a consolidated basis stood at an estimated 10.8 percent in fiscal 2002, up from just 1.4 percent three years ago, Nissan President Carlos Ghosn said.

He also said Nissan had completely eliminated its group debt by the end of fiscal 2002. The group debt had ballooned to 2.1 trillion yen in early 1999, shortly before Nissan signed a capital alliance with French carmaker Renault S.A.

“Three years ago, our business was in accelerated decline,” Ghosn said. “Today, we’re not only back in the global race, we’re among the pacesetters.”

In fiscal 2002, domestic sales rose 14.3 percent to 816,000 units, due largely to the company’s entry into the minicar market with the Moco as well as hit products, including the compact March and Cube models, the company said.

However, sales in the United States rose a meager 1 percent to 726,000 units and sales in Europe fell 3.8 percent to 474,000 units.

Ghosn said he is confident sales will rise by an additional 1 million units worldwide — the other goal of the three-year plan — with the introduction of more attractive models. Nissan will put a greater focus on the U.S. this year as part of its efforts to achieve that goal, he added.

For the current business year, Nissan predicts a group operating profit of 820 billion yen, a pretax profit of 781 billion yen, a net profit of 495 billion yen and sales of 7.45 trillion.

Daihatsu profit leaps

Daihatsu Motor Co. said Wednesday its consolidated net profit in fiscal 2002 jumped 58.7 percent from the previous year to 14.78 billion yen, thanks to thriving overseas sales.

The minivehicle maker’s consolidated pretax profit also rose 21 percent to 19.52 billion yen, while its consolidated operating profit increased 11.3 percent to 20.69 billion yen.

Group sales came to 969.57 billion yen, up 2.7 percent. Car sales totaled 792,061 units, including 611,949 minivehicles, which have engine displacements of up to 660cc.

Overseas sales tripled to 214,758 units while domestic sales fell 4 percent to 478,442 units. The number of vehicles sold under the brand of its parent company, Toyota Motor Corp., dropped 22.4 percent to 98,861 units.

On a parent-only basis, however, the firm, based in Ikeda, Osaka Prefecture, reported disappointing results for fiscal 2002 mainly due to dismal domestic sales.

Its net profit plummeted 42.7 percent from the previous year to 5.25 billion yen, while pretax profit dropped 32.6 percent to 9.73 billion yen. Operating profit fell 22.3 percent to 10.01 billion yen and sales came to 760.16 billion yen, down 7.2 percent from fiscal 2001.

For the current business year, the carmaker predicts a consolidated operating profit of 24 billion yen, a consolidated pretax profit of 21 billion yen, a consolidated net profit of 11 billion yen and group sales of 990 billion yen.

Hino’s Thai unit to go

Kyodo News

Hino Motors Ltd., a truck manufacturer affiliated with Toyota Motor Corp., said Wednesday it will dissolve its subsidiary in Thailand, Thai Hino Motor Corp., by the end of March 2004.

The move is intended to streamline the company’s operations and simplify its capital alliances with other firms.

Thai Hino Motor, established in 1964, is currently owned 35 percent by Hino, 35 percent by Mitsui & Co., and 30 percent by Hino Motors (Thailand) Ltd., another Thai unit held by Hino.