YOKOHAMA, Japan -- Declaring that showroom traffic finally is picking up, Nissan Motor Co. COO Toshiyuki Shiga lifted his global profit outlook and North American sales forecast.
Nissan now expects to sell 1.22 million vehicles in its biggest market in the fiscal year ending March 31, 2011. That's up from an earlier North American goal of 1.21 million and marks a 14 percent increase over last year's 1.07 million.
Shiga, speaking last week at Nissan's quarterly earnings announcement, said he was encouraged by overall U.S. sales showing an annualized rate above 12 million in October for the first time this year.
Said Shiga: "Showroom traffic is beginning to slowly recover. People who are employed are beginning to have a more robust attitude toward consumption."
Nissan's U.S. sales climbed 16 percent in October, outpacing the market's 13 percent gain.
The automaker's net income surged to ¥101.7 billion, or about $1.22 billion, in the fiscal second quarter, which ended Sept. 30, compared with $304.8 million a year earlier.
Global wholesale volume climbed about 28 percent to 985,215 vehicles in the quarter.
Based on the strong performance, Shiga nearly doubled Nissan's net income forecast to ¥270.0 billion, or about $3.23 billion, for the full fiscal year.
The new outlook was bumped up from May's target of $1.79 billion and represents a sixfold increase over last year's profit.
"We can't let our guard down," Shiga said, "but we are taking a breather."