TOKYO — Mitsubishi Motors Corp.'s profits surged on higher sales and favorable foreign currency rates in the last three months of 2017, although losses in North America continued to hold the company back.
Its operating loss in North America shrank to ¥3.0 billion ($26.6 million) in the October-December period, an improvement from $64.8 million in losses a year earlier.
The improvement came as North American retail sales expanded 13 percent to 36,000 vehicles in the quarter. Mitsubishi's worldwide sales were even better, growing 18 percent to 279,000 vehicles in the period.
In announcing the results last week, CFO Koji Ikeya said Mitsubishi's momentum in North America will pick up thanks to the introduction late last year of the Outlander PHEV plug-in hybrid crossover and this year's debut of the Eclipse Cross compact crossover. Both new products tap red-hot demand for light trucks.
But a booming business in China and Southeast Asia powered more than a doubling of parent-level operating profit in the quarter.
Mitsubishi's global operating profit jumped to $181.1 million in the company's fiscal third quarter from $74.6 million the year before. Net income more than tripled to $192.6 million from $55.9 million in the previous October-December period.
Revenue increased to $5.06 billion from $4.23 billion.
The year-earlier financial results reflected the hammering Mitsubishi sales took when it revealed that misconduct had occurred in fuel economy testing in Japan. Earnings in that period were further depressed by outlays associated with replacing defective Takata airbags, part of a global recall by nearly every major carmaker.
The absence of those negatives boosted earnings for the most recent quarter, as did rising sales and fresh savings from its new involvement in the Renault-Nissan alliance.
In the first three quarters of the fiscal year ending March 31, Mitsubishi notched $150.9 million in savings through its alliance participation, putting it on track to reach its goal of $221.9 million for the fiscal year.
"We have seen the effects of those efforts," Ikeya said. "We have maintained our V-shaped recovery."
Mitsubishi expects global retail sales to expand 18 percent to 1.09 million vehicles in the current fiscal year. North American sales are forecast to increase 8 percent to 156,000 vehicles. Volume in Asia should surge 35 percent to 425,000 units.