Nissan upbeat as profits fall

City A.M. Reporter
NISSAN Motor’s quarterly profit fell 15 per cent on a stronger yen and sliding Japanese demand, but the decline was the slimmest among local automakers and it lifted its outlook on growing overseas sales.

Nissan, which overtook Honda Motor as Japan’s second-biggest automaker last year, has been a standout particularly in China, where a line-up of small cars that qualified for tax incentives fuelled 36 per cent sales growth last year.

It was also among the few brands to grow in the tepid European market, helped by the new Juke crossover and the older Qashqai SUV.

For the full year to March 31, Nissan, owned 43 percent by France’s Renault, raised its operating profit forecast to 535bn yen (£4bn) from 485bn yen, matching the projection in a survey of 26 analysts.

French carmaker PSA Peugeot Citroen also reported yesterday. It said it has returned to profit in 2010, and set its sights on India and other fast-growing emerging markets to compensate for a flat European market.

“Whilst 2011 is likely to remain challenging in European markets, our global development should continue,” Europe’s second-biggest carmaker said.

Bernstein analyst Max Warburton wrote in a research note that PSA “continued to look stuck between a rock – European overcapacity, fragmentation and VW pricing pressure – and a hard place – behind most European competitors in ex-European expansion.”

Barclays Capital analyst Kristina Church wrote that the results were “uninspiring”.