YOKOHAMA, Japan -- Nissan Motor Corp.'s operating profits in North America slid 25 percent in the latest quarter despite a double-digit surge in new-car sales.
Results were undercut by the Japanese yen's steady climb against the dollar and lower sales of returned leased vehicles in the United States.
Operating profit fell to ¥48.9 billion, or about $599.7 million, in the fiscal third quarter ended Dec. 31, from $798.4 million a year earlier.
North American sales, by contrast, climbed 21 percent to 310,430 vehicles in the period. In the United States, Nissan sold 234,869 units, 24 percent more than the year before. Sales were buoyed by the arrival of the Juke crossover; 8,639 units were sold in the quarter.
Regional profits were suppressed in part by the high yen, which reduces the value of U.S. earnings repatriated to Japan. But Nissan also earned less from reselling cars back from lease compared with the year before.
Lower resale earnings trimmed about $71.1 million off the overall operating profit in North America.
"Almost all that came from the United States," Nissan executive Joji Tagawa said at Nissan's earnings announcement last week at the company's Yokohama headquarters.
"We are still making profits, but they are smaller than last year's," he said. "American performance was very good this year, but there is still room to do better."
On a global basis, Nissan's operating profit also declined, falling 15 percent to about $1.40 billion. Aside from lower earnings in North America, tumbling profits in Japan also took a big bite. Worldwide sales rose 14 percent to 1.01 million vehicles in the quarter, helping Nissan leapfrog Honda Motor Co. to become Japan's second-biggest automaker in 2010.
Nissan lifted its full-year outlook on booming business in emerging markets -- especially China, which edged the United States as Nissan's single biggest market in the quarter.
Nissan now expects total operating profit to advance 72 percent to $6.56 billion in the full fiscal year ending March 31. It had earlier forecast finishing with operating profit of $5.95 billion.