LOS ANGELES -- Despite financial problems in Japan, Mazda is pushing ahead this year in the United States with a new crossover and a 25 percent increase in ad spending.
Mazda Motor Corp. in Japan last week announced plans to sell about $2 billion in new stock and borrow $878 million from banks as it braced for its biggest net loss in 11 years. The company also is looking for an alliance partner.
Mazda is heavily exposed to the surging yen because of its high rate of exports. The company expects its fourth straight year in the red with a full fiscal-year net loss of ¥100 billion, or about $1.29 billion, worse than it previously expected. The fiscal year ends March 31.
But Mazda said it has "bottomed out" and forecasts net income in its fiscal fourth quarter and for its fiscal year beginning April 1, despite the strong yen.
Tatsuo Yoshida, an analyst with UBS Securities Japan, agrees with that assessment. He also expects fiscal fourth-quarter net income from Mazda, and full-year profits during Mazda's upcoming fiscal year.
Mazda executives in North America declined to comment until after the parent company's fund-raising drive, probably in March.
Shaun Del Grande, a Mazda dealer in San Jose, Calif., said he has noticed no changes in Mazda's plans this year.
"It's not like when GM was going bankrupt -- nobody's feeling any of this," said Del Grande, who also owns a Chevrolet dealership.
Mazda executives here have pledged to boost advertising spending 25 percent this year to support the launch of the CX-5 compact crossover. The CX-5, which is beginning to arrive in showrooms, is Mazda's first vehicle to use all of the automaker's Skyactiv technologies such as powertrains that are more efficient and more powerful, and lightweight chassis and frames.
The technologies will be used in eight vehicles to be launched by 2016. A redesigned Mazda6 could arrive as early as the end of this year, while updated versions of the MX-5 Miata, Mazda3 and CX-9 also are in the near-term pipeline.
The automaker wants Skyactiv to help it sell 400,000 vehicles by 2014 and achieve a 2.5 percent market share. In 2011, Mazda sold 250,426 vehicles in the United States, good for a 2.0 percent share.
Meanwhile, Mazda is racing to expand production capacity outside Japan to reduce its exposure to currency swings. The company aims to produce half of its vehicles outside Japan by 2016, up from 30 percent today, and boost overseas parts procurement from the current 20 percent to 30 percent by 2014.
Central to that plan are vehicle assembly and engine plants under construction in Mexico to build the Mazda2 subcompact and Mazda3.