Nissan sales up but profit dips on costs, China slowdown

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TOKYO (AP) — Japanese automaker Nissan Motor Co. says that despite strong overall sales its quarterly profit dipped in the last quarter, squeezed by rising costs and slowing growth in China.

The company said Thursday that its April-June net profit was 134.9 billion yen ($1.2 billion), down 1 percent from 136.4 billion yen the same period the year before. Quarterly sales climbed 4 percent to 2.76 trillion yen ($24.8 billion).

Nissan, which makes the Leaf electric car, March subcompact and Infiniti luxury models, stuck to its full year forecast through March 2018, for 535 billion yen ($4.8 billion) profit on 11.8 trillion yen ($106 billion) sales.

Yokohama-based Nissan sold 1.35 million vehicles in the quarter, up 5 percent on year. Vehicle sales rose in Japan, the U.S., China and Europe, it said.

Tiny cars called "kei" vehicles sold briskly in Japan market, while strong demand for sport utility vehicles such as the Nissan Rogue helped perk up sales in the U.S. Although Nissan's sales in China in the latest quarter exceeded those in the previous year, the momentum of growth was tapering off, the company said.

Nissan Corporate Vice President Joji Tagawa told reporters results were likely to pick up in coming months, as new and revamped models are launched, including the remodeled Leaf electric car, which he said will help maintain Nissan's leadership in electric vehicles.

He said Nissan hopes to lead in self-driving technology and is on track to deliver by next year vehicles that can autonomously carry out lane-changes on highways.

The rising cost of raw materials erased 19 billion yen ($171 million) from Nissan's quarterly operating profit, while an unfavorable foreign exchange rate eliminated another 2 billion yen ($18 million), the company said.

Nissan, which also makes Datsun brand cars, has acquired a 34 percent stake in Japanese rival Mitsubishi Motors Corp. Mitsubishi is the third member of Nissan's longtime alliance with Renault SA of France.

That alliance will have combined annual vehicle sales of 10 million vehicles, putting it on par with other industry giants such as Volkswagen AG of Germany, Japanese rival Toyota Motor Corp. and U.S. automaker General Motors Co.

Toyota and Honda Motor Co. report earnings next week.


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