TOKYO -- Honda plunged to a 5.6 billion yen ($51.9 million) operating loss in the latest quarter amid slumping sales as the coronavirus pandemic hammered the global economy.
Operating profit swung into the red in fiscal fourth quarter ended March 31, from 42.3 billion yen ($392.4 million) the year before, the automaker said in its earnings report on Tuesday.
Honda also booked a 29.5 billion yen ($273.6 million) net loss in the three-month period.
Revenue shriveled 15 percent to 3.46 trillion yen ($32.09 billion), as worldwide sales fell 28 percent to 981,000 vehicles in the January-March quarter.
Citing uncertainty about the recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, CEO Takahiro Hachigo refrained from issuing an earnings outlook for the current fiscal year ending March 31, 2021.
Honda's dismal results come as the global auto industry reels from the impact of COVID-19 and the resulting slump in demand and regulations ordering factory closures.
Japanese rivals Nissan and Mitsubishi Motors, due to officially report earnings later this month, have already warned of losses in the fiscal year ended March 31.
In the U.S., Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Ford Motor Co. also booked losses in the January-March period.
Honda planned to gradually resume auto production in the U.S. and Canada staring Monday, following the suspension of output in the region on March 23 and the furlough of workers.
Factories in Japan, Thailand, Vietnam and China were also in operation in early May, but output was suspended at plants in Mexico, Britain, Indonesia, Malaysia, India and Brazil.
In the hard-hit U.S. market, Hachigo said it will take a while for normal operations to resume.
"Dealers have started operations gradually," Hachigo said. "On a national level, it may be the summer, at the earliest, when sales activities return to normal."
Honda executives warned that a second or third wave of coronavirus outbreaks, as predicted by some health officials to arrive in the autumn, pose a threat to stable market recovery. Cash could get tight in that case, but the company said it has no cash crunch at the moment.
Honda's auto production in the fiscal year ended March 31 fell in Japan for the first time in four years, and it fell globally for the first time in eight years.
Japan's operations have been a little more sheltered from the pandemic's impact because their output is focused mostly on the domestic market, which has largely escaped the drastic lockdowns seen in other countries.
The COVID-19 pandemic took a 129.8 billion yen ($1.20 billion) bite out of quarterly operating profit, completely erasing cost-reduction efforts to the tune of 47.6 billion yen ($443.4 million).
In North America, Honda's biggest second-biggest market after Asia, regional operating profit sank 71 percent to 24.5 billion yen ($227.3 million) in the period. North American sales fell 17 percent to 423,000 vehicles in the quarter.
European sales dropped 38 percent to 30,000 units in the quarter as regional business rebounded to an operating profit of 3.9 billion yen ($36.2 million), from a loss of 15.2 billion yen ($141.0 million) a year earlier.
For the full fiscal year ended March 31, Honda's operating profit fell 13 percent to 633.6 billion yen ($5.88 billion) for an operating profit margin of 4.2 percent.
Net income shed 25 percent to 455.7 billion yen ($4.23 billion) in the period, as revenue declined 6 percent to 14.93 trillion yen ($138.48 billion).
Global sales dropped 10 percent to 4.79 million vehicles in the fiscal year.
In February, Honda had raised its full fiscal year profit outlook for the just-ended fiscal year. At the time, Honda predicted operating profit would increase 0.5 percent while net income would fall just 2.5 percent. Global sales were seen falling 6.4 percent to 4.98 million vehicles.
Honda had predicted that North American sales would decline 4.6 percent to 1.865 million vehicles in the current fiscal year, while European sales would fall 20 percent to 135,000 units.
Instead, North American volume fell 6.6 percent to 1.82 million, while European sales dropped 21 percent to 133,000 vehicles.