SHANGHAI -- Leading Chinese minivan maker Chongqing Changan Automobile Co. Ltd. said on Tuesday its third-quarter net profit jumped 33 percent year on year, riding a boom in the domestic auto sector.
The company, which makes compact cars with Suzuki Corp. and Ford Motor Co., said full-year earnings were forecast to rise more than 50 percent after third-quarter net profit rose to 360.67 million yuan ($43.57 million) from 270.61 million yuan a year earlier.
"Our company kept on developing new products and maintained good development momentum," Changan Auto said in the report published in the Securities Times.
"Judging from our company's strong performance, we expect our earnings to grow at least 50 percent for 2003," it said. The company posted a net profit of 835 million yuan in 2002.
China is increasingly a focus for global auto makers escaping depressed or saturated home markets. The country's car output surged 87.2 percent year on year to 1.44 million units in the first nine months of 2003 and analysts expect annual output to exceed the two-million mark.
Foreign car makers have announced plans to more than double production over the next four years, raising some fears of a margin-slicing glut. But they hope strong economic growth of more than seven percent in the most populous country in the world will soak up output.
Changan Auto said net profit in the first nine months surged twofold to 1.13 billion yuan, while its turnover jumped 44 percent to 10.64 billion yuan as output and sales rose.
It said output rose 31 percent on year to 272,801 vehicles in the first nine months, while sales jumped 45 percent to 278,505 units.
Changan Auto's venture with Ford produced 13,149 cars in the first nine months of this year and sold 10,994 cars, with analysts expecting full-year sales to hit 23,000.
Ford, a latecomer to the market compared with rivals General Motors and Volkswagen AG, and Changan Auto launched their first Fiesta car in January this year.
Ford said this month it would boost investment by more than $1 billion in China over the next few years, with production at the Changan venture to rise to 150,000 units.