TOKYO -- Nissan Motor Co. CEO Carlos Ghosn said Thursday that Nissan was on track to meet its profit forecasts for the year despite rising costs.
"We are on track," Ghosn told reporters at the launch of the company's Fuga luxury sedan.
"At the same time we have to recognize that a lot of the risks that we listed at the beginning of the year are materializing," he said, citing the rises in raw material and oil prices, U.S. sales incentives and interest rates.
Ghosn added that some external factors such as a weaker than expected yen were helping to cushion some of the blow, while operational efforts were also helping.
Nissan, owned 44 percent by Renault SA, has forecast a 4.3 percent rise in operating profit to $7.84 billion in the 12 months to March -- an estimate that many analysts consider conservative.
Behind the profit expansion are plans to boost global vehicle sales by 11 percent through new models like the Fuga -- the third domestic car launch in two months.
Nissan is targeting monthly sales of 2,000 units.
The automaker is scheduled to introduce three more models in Japan by mid-January to shore up sliding sales.
Sales in the United States, meanwhile, have been stronger than expected, and Ghosn said the key to further boosting sales there was to continue refreshing the lineup of cars under the Infiniti luxury brand.
Fuga, which replaces the ageing Cedric and Gloria models in Japan, will be sold in North America in the spring as the new Infiniti M35 and M45.
In China, another key market for Nissan, Ghosn said profit levels were falling faster than expected.
Automakers have been trimming prices in the fast-growing market as they grapple with oversupply, even as they try to absorb rising steel costs.
"When steel prices go up 20 percent in China, there's nothing you can do about it," Ghosn said.
"But we never hoped to maintain the very high levels of profit margins that we enjoyed at the beginning. We're just coming back to earth more quickly than we imagined."