TOKYO -- Japanese truck maker Nissan Diesel Motor Co. reported a 69 percent jump in half-year operating profit on Tuesday and said it expected to reward its shareholders with a dividend for the first time in five years.
Thanks to a 32 percent jump in overseas sales, Nissan Diesel, held 24 percent by Nissan Motor Co. and 18 percent by Renault SA, said operating profit reached a record 19.18 billion yen ($182.3 million) in the six months to Sept. 30.
Net profit was also a record, at 16.50 billion yen compared with a loss of 9.65 billion yen in the year-earlier period.
Revenue inched up 0.3 percent to 226.71 billion yen as stronger sales to Nissan Motor and surging demand for its trucks in South Africa, Indonesia, Malaysia and other markets made up for a sales fall in Japan, China and Thailand.
The operating profit, however, fell 8 billion yen short of Nissan Diesel's latest forecast announced last month for 20 billion yen after the truck maker announced a recall of over 30,000 trucks last week to fix defective front-wheel hubs.
But half-year net profit was slightly better than the 16.1 billion yen forecast a month ago as sales exceeded its latest estimates.
"We are succeeding in steadily building up profits and improving our finances," Senior Managing Director Yusuke Sakaue told a news conference.
In a sign that financial health was returning, he said Nissan Diesel eliminated years of negative net worth, returning to a capital surplus and lifting shareholder equity ratio to 20.4 percent from 14.2 percent in March and minus 0.7 percent a year ago.
Its operating profit margin improved to 8.5 percent in the first half, against its aim under a five-year plan to raise it to over 4 percent this business year. Interest-bearing debt fell to 174.8 billion yen from 262.6 billion at the end of March.
Nissan Diesel, which received 106 billion yen in aid from its main banks and Nissan Motor a year ago, said it would pay a dividend of 3 yen per share this year, offering a dividend for the first time since it paid 1.5 yen in September 1997.