Truck maker Isuzu Motor Ltd. said Tuesday it set all-time highs in group pretax and operating profit in fiscal 2005, thanks to robust sales in the United States and Southeast Asia.

The results mark three consecutive years of record profits for the truck maker.

Isuzu reported an operating profit of 90.66 billion yen, up 4 percent from the previous year, and a pretax profit of 93.84 billion yen, up 2.5 percent, on sales of 1.58 trillion yen.

Overseas sales jumped 39.6 percent to 348,000 vehicles, while domestic sales climbed 9.4 percent to 98,000 vehicles.

At a news conference, Isuzu President Yoshinori Ida said business is also expanding in the Middle East, Africa and Central and South America.

The company said it expects to set a new record this year as well, estimating a pretax profit of 95 billion yen on sales of 1.59 trillion yen thanks to steadily climbing overseas sales and cost cuts worth 15 billion yen.

This year, Isuzu plans to increase investment 55 percent to 60 billion yen, part of which will be used to launch a new model in autumn.

The announcement followed a decision by General Motors Corp. in March to sell its 7.9 percent stake in Isuzu, worth about 90 million shares, to major trading companies Mitsubishi Corp. and Itochu Corp.

Isuzu said the move did not affect the company’s financial performance.

New Honda factory

Honda Motor Co. plans to build a new automobile plant in North America to help fill a supply shortage there, company officials said Tuesday.

With an initial investment estimated at tens of billions of, yen Honda’s sixth auto plant in North America is expected to go onstream by the end of 2009, the officials said.

The major automaker is considering manufacturing compact vehicles, including the Civic and the Fit, at the plant to meet rising local demand for fuel-efficient cars amid gasoline price hikes.

Its initial production capacity is expected to surpass 100,000 units a year.

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