TOKYO -- Suzuki Motor Corp., Japan's top minivehicle maker, posted a 12 percent rise in first-quarter operating profit on Tuesday, benefiting from booming demand for minicars in Japan and robust sales in Asia.
Operating profit at Suzuki, owned one-fifth by General Motors and Japan's fourth-biggest automaker by stock value, was 27.51 billion yen ($248.2 million) in the April-June quarter, while net profit jumped 31 percent to 16.56 billion yen.
Sales rose 2.1 percent to 587.29 billion yen, also driven by a 30 percent surge n European car sales and a 4.3 percent rise in domestic car sales.
That made up for a slump in motorcycle sales in Japan, Europe and North America.
Last week, rival Daihatsu Motor Co. Ltd. also revealed rosy results and raised its full-year earnings forecasts citing brisk sales of the 660cc minivehicles at home.
After a double-digit jump in profits last year, Suzuki, known for its cost-cutting savvy, has forecast another record-breaking year fuelled by steady gains in the thriving Asian market, which accounts for about a fifth of its revenues.
It kept its forecasts unchanged for 100 billion yen operating profit and 60 billion yen net profit.
Suzuki's biggest strength is in the fast-growing Indian market, where its Maruti 800, Alto 1000 and other models make up about half of the country's cars through majority-owned Maruti Udyog Ltd., India's biggest automaker.
Driven by a 20 percent climb in sales and a rigorous cost-cutting program in Asia's fourth-largest economy, formerly state-owned Maruti Udyog last week reported a 42 percent rise in net profit during the quarter.