TOKYO (Bloomberg) -- Nissan Motor Co. forecast profit will more than triple this fiscal year as auto demand recovers in North America and sales grow in China.
Nissan, Japan's third-largest automaker, may boost net income to 150 billion yen ($1.6 billion) for the year ending March 31, from 42.4 billion yen a year earlier, the company said in a statement today. Sales may rise to 8.2 trillion yen from 7.5 trillion yen.
CEO expects Nissan's sales in China to increase 14 percent this fiscal year, while North American deliveries may increase 13 percent to 1.2 million as the world's second-largest auto market recovers from a recession.
Nissan follows Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co. in forecasting higher profit.
“The full-year profit plan seems a bit conservative,” said Yoshihiro Okumura of Chiba-gin Asset Management Co. in Tokyo. “I expected to see a net income estimate of about 200 billion yen.”
The maker of Versa and Altima cars increased U.S. sales 35 percent in April as the nation's industrywide auto demand rose for a sixth month. U.S. vehicle sales may total 12 million this year, Ghosn said in an interview today, up from 10.4 million last year.
Nissan narrowed its fourth-quarter loss to 11.6 billion yen in the three months ended March 31 from 277 billion yen a year earlier, the company said, as cost cuts and rising sales offset a stronger yen. That compares with the 6.3 billion yen average profit estimate of three analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.
The carmaker's U.S. sales surged 31 percent in the quarter, resulting in a record market share of 9 percent, the company said in a statement. In 2009, Nissan's market share in the U.S. was 7.6 percent, the company said.
Nissan boosted vehicle sales in China, the world's largest automobile market, 68 percent to 243,000 vehicles in the three months ended March and plans to start selling its March compact car in the country in the second half of this year.
The company aims to raise production capacity in China by almost 70 percent to 900,000 units a year by 2012, as the nation's growing economy fuels rising demand.
The Leaf EV
Nissan plans to start selling the Leaf electric car in Japan and the United States and will introduce the model in China in 2011. Ghosn said the automaker has received more than 13,000 orders for the Leaf in Japan, U.S. and Europe.
The carmaker started taking orders for the Leaf in Japan on April 1 for delivery in December and expects to sell 6,000 units domestically this fiscal year.
The company aims to have capacity to make 500,000 Leaf cars a year by 2012 and plans to build the vehicles in Japan, the U.K., Portugal and Tennessee initially, Ghosn said.
“Although we continue to operate in an environment that is volatile and uncertain, fiscal year 2010 will be an important year in which we launch an affordable, mass-market, all-electric, zero-emission vehicle, extend our presence in emerging markets and develop additional synergies in the Renault-Nissan alliance,” Ghosn told reporters earlier today in Yokohama.
Nissan posted a profit of 42.4 billion yen in the year ended March 31, compared with a loss of 233.7 billion yen a year earlier as sales rebounded in the United States and Japan.
The carmaker based its earnings forecast on exchange rates of 90 yen to the dollar and 120 yen to the euro, compared with 92.9 yen and 131.2 yen a year earlier, respectively.
Additional capital expenditures, marketing costs and research and development associated with electric cars may make it difficult for Nissan to cut overall costs, said Koji Endo, an analyst at Advanced Research Japan in Tokyo.
Capital spending as a percentage of sales will rise to 4.4 percent this fiscal year from 3.6 percent last year, the company said today. Ghosn said the percentage will rise as Nissan expands in emerging markets and builds electric-car plants.
Nissan's alliance with French partner Renault SA agreed on a partnership on April 7 to share development costs, engines and small-car technologies with Daimler AG. As part of the linkup, Daimler will swap a 3.1 percent stake, valued at 1.17 billion euros for holdings of the same size in Renault and Nissan.
Toyota said yesterday its net income may rise 48 percent this fiscal year to 310 billion yen. Honda, which posted higher profits than Toyota for the past two fiscal years, forecasts full-year profit will gain 27 percent to 340 billion yen.