Nissan became the latest major Japanese automaker to report booming earnings for the fiscal year that just ended, and it was also the latest to forecast a plunge in profit for the current year, blaming a rising yen and soaring material costs.
“There is no way we can overcome these headwinds,” Nissan’s chief executive, Carlos Ghosn, told reporters Tuesday at company headquarters in Tokyo.
Nissan Motor, Japan’s third-biggest automaker, expects profit for the fiscal year through March 2009 to drop 30 percent, to 340 billion yen ($3.3 billion). Last fiscal year, its net profit rose 5 percent, to 482.3 billion yen ($4.6 billion).
Its bigger rivals Toyota and Honda also announced strong annual earnings and dismal forecasts amid worries about the slumping United States economy and strong yen. Toyota Motor expects its fiscal-year profit will fall 27 percent, while Honda Motor foresees an 18 percent drop.
For the January-March quarter, Nissan’s net profit rose 67 percent, to 137.6 billion yen ($1.3 billion). That includes one-time “fifth-quarter” numbers from overseas subsidiaries that were added to the previous year’s fourth quarter to put all global units on the same calendar. Without those numbers, quarterly profit jumped 95 percent.
Nissan sold 3.77 million vehicles worldwide for the fiscal year that ended March 31, up 8.2 percent from the previous year. In North America, Nissan’s sales totaled 1.35 million vehicles, up 1.3 percent on the year.
Although sales were down 2.5 percent in Japan during the fiscal year, at 721,000 vehicles, they climbed 17.9 percent in Europe, to 636,000, and gained 22 percent in other overseas markets, including China, at 1.06 million — surpassing the one million mark for the first time.