Honda Motor Co. said Tuesday its group net profit increased 4.7 percent from the previous year to a record 486.1 billion yen in fiscal 2004, mainly due to brisk overseas sales and a rise in profits from affiliates.

Net profit at the automaker was at a record high for the fourth straight year.

In the reporting year that ended March 31, Honda’s consolidated sales rose 6 percent from a year earlier to a record 8.65 trillion yen while operating profit totaled 631 billion yen, up 5.1 percent.

The stronger yen sucked 94.6 billion yen from its operating profit, and Honda also saw an increase in general and administrative expenditures.

But company officials said brisk car and motorcycle sales in Europe and Asia more than offset both the negative impact of the yen’s appreciation against the dollar and the cost increases.

In terms of sales volume, Honda sold 3.24 million vehicles worldwide, up 8.7 percent from the previous year, thanks to the rise in sales in Europe and other Asian countries.

In North America, car sales grew 1.1 percent to 1.575 million units, as the automaker enjoyed strong sales of its Acura luxury models.

In Europe, Honda sold 267,000 vehicles, up 15.6 percent, due to solid sales of the Jazz compact, known as the Fit in Japan.

In Asian countries excluding Japan, sales jumped 50.1 percent to 512,000 vehicles as the Jazz enjoyed strong demand. Sales of auto parts for local production in China also played a key role in boosting regional sales.

Domestic sales meanwhile fell 0.6 percent to 712,000 units. Growth in sales of new models such as the Legend luxury sports sedan could not cover the decline in sales of the Step Wagon model and the Fit compact.

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