Mazda targets $2.3 billion operating profit by 2015-16

Talks underway to sell stake in AutoAlliance plant in Michigan to Ford

Photo credit: BLOOMBERG

TOKYO (Reuters) -- Mazda Motor Corp. raised its mid-term profit target on Friday and said it aims to post 230 billion yen ($2.3 billion) in annual operating profit by the financial year ending in March 2016 after it hit its earlier target two years in advance.

Japan's fifth biggest automaker by sales volume posted record 182.1 billion yen in operating profit for the financial year that ended in March, surpassing the previous mid-term profit goal of 150 billion yen, buoyed by a weaker yen that made its exporting business more profitable.

Mazda cut its global sales target in its mid-term target by 11 percent to 1.52 million vehicles, however.

Separately, Mazda said it agreed with Ford Motor Co. to start talks to sell the U.S. carmaker all of the Japanese company's stake in a joint venture that runs an assembly plant in Flat Rock, Mich.

Mazda posted an one-time extraordinary loss of 36.6 billion yen ($358 million) in the year that ended in March in anticipation of the loss it will see when it sells off its 50 percent stake in the joint venture -- AutoAlliance International.

Ford and Mazda currently each hold a 50 percent stake in the joint venture that operates the Flat Rock plant in Michigan. Mazda, which stopped making the Mazda6 at the plant in August 2012, no longer manufactures any of its vehicles there, while Ford makes the Fusion mid-sized sedan and Mustang coupe at the plant.

Mazda began operations at a Mexico assembly plant in January, where it is manufacturing the Mazda3 and the Mazda2.

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