TOKYO -- Suzuki Motor Corp., Japan's biggest minivehicle maker, on Wednesday reported solid operating profit for the past nine months, which put it firmly on track to achieve record profits for the full year.
Group operating profit for April-December was 69.36 billion yen ($657.7 million), while net profit came to 40.48 billion yen on sales of 1.61 trillion yen.
No comparisons from the year before were given since Suzuki, the country's fourth-largest auto maker by market value, is reporting quarterly figures for the first time.
Suzuki, also the world's third-largest motorcycle maker, has been making steady advances, helped by aggressive cost-cutting and surging sales of both cars and motorbikes in Asia.
Backed by strong demand in countries like Indonesia and Thailand, Suzuki's motorcycle sales topped one million units during the nine months, compared with 826,000 units for the whole of last year.
Suzuki has also benefited from its huge presence in India through majority-owned Maruti Udyog Ltd., the country's dominant car company, as the population upgrades from motorcycles to cars and as roads improve.
The performance in Asia has made up for stalled demand in Japan, where sales of the third-generation Wagon R, a core model launched in late September, have been lackluster.
Its North American business had also disappointed in the first six months, but a spokesman said Suzuki was making steady progress to return the region back into the black.
For the full year to March 31, Suzuki, owned one-fifth by General Motors, maintained its forecast of a 13 percent climb in net profit to a record 35 billion yen, but analysts generally expect more.
Net profit for the past nine months overshot the full-year forecast, but Suzuki is expecting losses to write down the depreciation of assets in the final quarter.
It expects operating profit to rise 15 percent to 85 billion yen, largely due to the full consolidation of its Indonesian unit, Indomobil Suzuki.
In late afternoon trade, Suzuki's shares were down two percent at 1,575 yen, in line with losses at other auto makers and the overall market.